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Just The Beginning: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
July, 31 2020
U.S. Ski & Snowboard

U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s mission is to lead, encourage, and support athletes in achieving excellence by empowering national teams, clubs, coaches, parents, officials, volunteers, and fans. Excellence is not limited to what we leave on the snow, but in every aspect of our organization. We strive to create an environment within our organization and the snowsports industry in which diversity is valued, equity is striven for and inclusion is embraced. 

On June 8 we published a letter from our President and CEO, Tiger Shaw, addressing U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s initial plans to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive snowsports community. 

“In early June we began to listen to underrepresented voices within our community so that we could begin to take steps to improve,” said Tiger. “This is only the beginning. We initiated necessary discussion and increased awareness among our stakeholders, member groups and sphere of influence. There is much more to do and we are committed to affecting change now and in the long term, but this has been a good start.”

Recognizing the issues we face when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion was an important first step. We reached out and learned from members within our community, opened ourselves up to difficult conversations and began to formulate a path forward. Part of this process was hosting “Discussing Racial Diversity In Snowsports,” a digital panel that took place on Wednesday, July 15, moderated by Henri Rivers, President, National Brotherhood of Skiers.

The panel brought industry leaders and participants together for a frank conversation about the current landscape of racial diversity in our industry and to begin to talk through ways we can create a more inclusive community. It served as a catalyst for U.S. Ski & Snowboard and our industry partners to take action within our own organizations and as individual members of the ski and ride community. As a result, the new and improved U.S. Ski & Snowboard Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee is firing on all cylinders. 

The DEI committee has identified six areas of work for immediate action:

  1. Conduct a comprehensive internal audit on U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s diversity, equity and inclusion in practice, which will largely inform our strategic plans moving forward.

  2. Identify and implement education and training opportunities for staff and athletes.

  3. Build out relevant content and resources on our website for our various stakeholder groups to create transparency and accountability.

  4. Pursue meaningful, formal partnerships with grassroots, local and national programs

  5. Continue gender equity coaching initiatives. 

  6. Create Annual DEI Award, to recognize a person, group, or organization that has positively heightened the awareness of diversity and inclusion efforts through various modes and media resulting in the increase and successful participation of currently underrepresented groups in the sport of skiing and snowboarding. 

In addition to our internal efforts, we will continue to use our platform to elevate voices from within the ski and snowboard community through stories and social media. This will be followed by profiles on each of our panelists from the July 15 discussion, among others. We still have a lot to learn and look forward to sharing these voices with you. 

Events will remain critical in our efforts to create awareness. Moving forward, future panels will have a narrower focus with the goal of creating true calls to action and to promote engaging discussion. Panels will be conducted periodically on a three to four week basis allowing for proper public-facing promotion and post-event analysis and evaluation. Lastly, we will also open up and promote our events to the public, creating opportunities for involvement beyond our membership base. 

As Tiger said in his June 8 letter, “It is no secret that U.S. Ski & Snowboard and our sports are historically white and despite many great programs in place, we could use more widespread initiatives for marginalized communities to participate. We could attempt to justify this with excuses, but when you drill down, the core issue is that there has been a lack of broad responsibility to do so. We can start by improving our organization, and better engage with and support those around us. We will lead by action and use our influence to help others.”

Thank you to all those who have contacted U.S. Ski & Snowboard with your ideas and feedback as well as to those who participated in our diversity panel. We are in this together, so please, if you have thoughts, suggestions or ideas on how we can better ourselves and strengthen this organization by creating true inclusivity, please reach out.