Name: Yalmaz Siddiqui
Title: V.P., Corporate Sustainability
Company: MGM Resorts International
Years in Current Position: Four
Primary Responsibilities: “The main ones are to think about what the company should focus on. What should the company prioritize? To initiate new ideas. To start new things. To integrate the preferable habits and practices so they become normal. Partnering with marketing and social media to communicate.”
Organization’s most significant accomplishment in the area of global corporate responsibility: “There are many but our decision to create CityCenter—which was the world’s largest privately funded LEED certified development when it opened in 2009.”
Organization’s most significant challenge moving forward in the area of global corporate responsibility: “How to integrate the pillars of diversity and inclusion, corporate philanthropy, and environmental responsibility. How can we integrate these so all these pillars are cohesive?”
LAS VEGAS—The doors may be closed on the Las Vegas Strip currently but that has not stopped MGM Resorts International from continuing to think big when it comes to reducing its environmental impact. The company and Invenergy are currently partnered on a 100-megawatt solar project north of Las Vegas that will at peak production provide more than 90 percent of the electricity MGM Las Vegas properties need. Yalmaz Siddiqui, V.P., Corporate Sustainability for MGM Resorts, says no solar panels have been installed yet but the project eventually will be made up of approximately 336,000 panels on 640 acres of land within the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone.
The massive solar project is just one of the many projects Siddiqui helps to oversee as part of a team of 20 people focused on social impact and sustainability. “I report to a Chief Diversity and Sustainability Officer,” he says. “Four directly report to me in sustainability. One-third of our team has the environment as the focus. It is a robust commitment.”
MGM Resorts has long had environment-focused reduction targets. By 2025 it aims to reduce carbon emissions per square foot by 45 percent, energy per square foot by 25 percent, water per square foot by 30 percent, and achieve a 60 percent materials diversion rate. The baseline year for these goals: 2007.
“Later in 2020 we will be communicating our science-based targets for our operations and supply chain,” Siddiqui says.
New Sustainability Report Coming Soon
MGM Resorts’ most recent Social Impact and Sustainability Plan report is for 2018 but Siddiqui says the company’s new 2019 report will be published soon.
Siddiqui, who earned his Master’s in Philosophy, Environment & Development from the University of Cambridge, has helped modernize MGM Resorts’ environmental program with a deeper focus on metrics, reporting and transparency, including alignment with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and emerging investor expectations on Environmental, Social, and Governance performance. He leads specific programs including Sustainable Events, Food Waste, Environmentally Preferable Purchasing, and Circular Economy.
Siddiqui is particularly proud of his company’s efforts around food waste. “We have directed 1.5 million meals to charities based on recovered food,” he says. “It helps the environment and people in need.”
In late March, MGM Resorts announced an array of initiatives intended to support those impacted economically by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including a $1 million crisis and disaster relief pledge into an employee emergency grant fund and donating the equivalent of 400,000 meals across the United States. Company goals by 2025 include 5 million meals to be donated through its Feeding Forward program.
Hope for More Renewables Adoption
When asked what causes him the most concern about the environment, Siddiqui said the rapid growth of climate change. Yet, he is hopeful at the same time. “As the price of renewables has come down, we are going to see a rapid rate of adoption of renewables and the electrification of transportation.”
Siddiqui says he is lucky to have worked professionally on sustainability for 15 years now. He enjoys his current position, he says, because it is a role about innovation. “I like the technical side of it,” he says. “How to measure, and how to marry the technical with simple communication.”
Growing up in a mining town in Zambia, Siddiqui says he saw a lot of poverty around him. “I also saw environmental degradation,” he says. “I got exposed to chemical fumes.” His interest in the environment grew from there. “During business school in Canada, I became one of the only grads interested in sustainability,” he adds.
Siddiqui previously led global sustainability for Office Depot, helping the company attain a ranking of No. 1 greenest large retailer in America for three consecutive years. He is also the Founding Chair, Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council, a multi-stakeholder effort to guide, measure and recognize leadership in sustainable procurement.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.