December 16, 2020
Four months ago, I embarked on an intensive inclusion training program with both members of my board of directors and my fellow winter outdoor industry leaders. The journey has been messy, frustrating and altogether exhilarating. Mistakes are common, but humility, intentionality and kindness always prevail. Jointly, we are developing a path for an inclusive winter outdoor community. At SIA we take this very seriously. We have mandated that inclusion must be engrained in everything we do. While we have admittedly only taken baby steps in this endeavor, we have much grander plans for both SIA and our members to build a community that is welcoming to all. We know that it will take time to address and restructure the bad habits built over so many decades. But, every step forward is a step in the right direction and we must keep plodding ahead. We know that this is not only a moral imperative, it is a business imperative as well.
Four months ago, I can honestly say that I did not have the tools to publicly address the biases of this industry. And while I am very much still learning, it’s critical in my journey, and as the President of SIA, that I hold myself and others accountable when we see instances of racism or inequity in our community. With this in mind, I feel obligated to address the recent stir caused by National Ski Patrol Chair, Brian Rull. His use of racist language in his article in the Fall 2020 issue of Ski Patrol Magazine is disheartening and deeply troubling. Even more disheartening is the failure to acknowledge the act as racist and address it. We are a community that prides itself on being purveyors of fun and family. Our customers are our lifeblood and demand a higher standard from us. Actions by even one person reflect poorly on us all and undermine our collective progress. Occurrences like that which took place at NSP, demand our attention and our unified commitment to hold those accountable to take corrective action and to ask how they can create meaningful change moving forward.
Change can be hard and uncomfortable. Instances like this are truly unfortunate. Sadly this is not the first, nor the last time that we will see the ugly side of racial bias and inequity in our industry. But, if we don’t challenge ourselves and others to embrace the discomfort and to hold our industry accountable to this higher standard, we won’t ever realize our vision for an inclusive winter outdoor community.
I take strength knowing that I am not alone in this journey and that I stand with my fellow industry leaders like NSAA’s Kelly Pawlak and her recent, similar message on this incident to their membership. We must all work together to create this path to inclusion. My challenge to you this holiday season is to give yourself the time and space to think about what you value most about this community and the importance of sharing those values and experiences with others, specifically those not like you. I believe we all have room for greater exploration and improvement.
Have a safe holiday,
Nick Sargent, SIA President