UPTOWN Professional Oct 4, 2011

Elite Executive: Phyllis A. James

Elite Executive: Phyllis A. JamesMGM Resorts International’s Phyllis A. James says the corporate landscape’s diversity and inclusion efforts have progressed further than she ever imagined 15 years ago but more work is still necessary.

“I am glad that as a movement or a trend it has come as far as it has come. I am optimistic that the work in this arena is not done and that corporate America needs to continue to evolve in this area,” says James, who is MGM Resorts International’s chief diversity and philanthropy officer as well as executive vice president and special counsel. Her duties include overseeing all aspects of MGM’s 10-year-old formalized voluntary diversity and inclusion initiative.

Supplier diversity has become an integral part of MGM’s sourcing and construction operations. Over the past decade, MGM Resorts has spent more than $1 billion directly with Minority, Women, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (MWBDEs), nearly 11 percent of MGM’s total biddable spend for goods and services during this time period, and more than $1.5 billion directly with MWBDE construction contractors, designers and other professionals.

“Our goal is to provide access for qualified minority-owned, women-owned and disadvantaged business enterprises to business relationships with our Company that support our strategic business objectives,” she says.

James joined MGM in March 2002. Prior to joining MGM, James previously worked as a partner in the San Francisco-based law firm of Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro (now Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman) and as general counsel with the city of Detroit. James holds a bachelor’s degree from Radcliffe College and a law degree from Harvard Law School.

— AISHA JEFFERSON