Addressing DEI at Arapahoe Basin
Since our founding in 1946, we have strived to be an accessible and welcoming place. Our tradition is one of inviting anyone and everyone to enjoy A-Basin, while understanding that not everyone who clicks into a pair of skis or straps into a board looks, sounds, or lives the same. We have also always been an aspirational place—where people find freedom, camaraderie, and joy. A-Basin is an adventurous and challenging mountain that encourages our guests and employees to explore, grow, and show off their personal style.
Yet, our history of good intentions has not been enough to show—through concrete actions—that anyone of any race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or other under-represented background belongs here. We acknowledge that access to mountain activities has often not been equitable and that the snowsports industry has not been inclusive enough.
In order to keep our welcoming vibe alive, we know we must continually work to break down barriers to bring more understanding, diversity, and opportunities to a space that has historically lacked it. We also recognize that inaction and ignorance threaten to make "The Legend" into something we never wanted it to be—frozen in old habits that fail to benefit a broader range of people.
As one of the oldest ski areas in the business, we want to do better and believe A-Basin has a leadership role to play. We are taking steps to be more intentional in how we present skiing and riding, who we partner with, and how we listen, learn, speak, and act. Please read on for details and know that this is just a start. We are committed to a long-term cultural shift, and will keep searching for opportunities to do the right thing.
We want skiing and riding to become more diverse, more representative, and more vibrant for all of us. Whatever you look like, and however you identify and move through the world, you belong here.
HEADER PHOTO: Colorado Blackpackers at A-Basin in 2021. Photographer: Try Cissell. Used with permission.
Blackpackers is a 501(c)(3) organization meeting those at the intersection of underrepresentation and economic vulnerability. A-Basin is an official partner of Blackpackers and is honored to support its efforts.
A-Basin's DEI Assessment + Plan
In summer 2021, A-Basin hired Annie Kao of Ascent Inclusion Consulting. Annie is a passionate, lifelong skier who previously served as an in-house attorney for Vail Resorts. Her organization’s mission is to “provide guidance to advance Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity in the outdoor industry and the outdoor recreation economy.”
In October 2021, Ascent completed a comprehensive DEI audit for the company and helped us develop the first phase of a multi-year action plan. Summaries of both can be reviewed below.
With this professional DEI guidance, we intend to be and do better as an employer, as a member of our community, and as a major player in the ski industry. Our goal is for everyone to feel welcome, safe, and celebrated at A-Basin.
In summer 2022, Annie concluded her work with A-Basin and joined Alterra Mountain Company (creators of the Ikon Pass) as Vice President of Social Responsibility.
*SLT = Senior Leadership Team. Includes department directors, VP of Operations, and our COO.
A-BASIN DEI ACTION PLAN, PHASE I
|Collect expanded and more consistent demographic data of employees (Including Race, Gender, LGBTQ+, Age/Generation, Disability, Veteran status).||Develop updated policies and practices with a focus on the recruitment pipeline.|
Complete foundational DEI training for employees, with practical tips on inclusive behaviors.
|Collect expanded and more consistent demographic data of guests (Including Race, Gender, LGBTQ+, Age/Generation, Disability, Veteran status).||Explore potential mentorship/affinity opportunities to support underrepresented employees.||Update website with authentic DEI content and imagery.|
|Explore recruitment of targeted candidate groups (increase number of women and BIPOC candidates).||Explore paid internship and/or apprenticeship options.||Advance inclusive marketing authentically, without tokenization. Visible representation of broader groups.|
|Explore potential diverse community partnerships.||Incorporate DEI related incentives in annual performance goals.|
PHOTO: A-Basin's Pride celebration, May 28, 2022
Specific actions taken/in progress since 2020
Created an internal DEI subcommittee that meets regularly and is made up of representatives from multiple departments and levels of the organization, including ski school, marketing, mountain operations, human resources, and our Chief Operating Officer. The group provides updates to all staff and is developing a schedule of regular feedback meetings open to all current employees.
Donated $5,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 2020, in response to the murder of George Floyd.
Updated our hiring policy. Background checks are narrowly tailored for specific positions only where necessary (for example, jobs working with children are still background checked). In addition, rigid minimum education requirements are no longer automatic if they are not necessary.
Staff are required to complete foundational diversity, equity, and inclusion awareness training, with additional training resources available on a voluntary basis. A-Basin snowsports instructors also participate in additional microaggression and “bystander intervention” training before the ski and snowboard lesson season starts.
Conducted anonymous staff surveys to collect honest feedback about the A-Basin work environment and how it can be improved. Results were shared across the company and staff encouraged to keep this conversation going. These surveys will continue to be done on a recurring basis.
In previous years, A-Basin has partnered with Silverthorne Elementary and SOS Outreach to bring 5th graders up to the Basin for 3 free ski/snowboard lessons. During the 21-22 season, the program expanded to include 4th graders. The school provides transportation and we provide lift tickets, rental equipment, and lessons for free. As we work to deepen our community ties, we will strive to continue this relationship indefinitely.
Updated A-Basin's Keys to Success, a document that guides employee training and decision making. "Inclusion Success" was added alongside Guest, Employee, Financial, Sustainability, and Community Success:
Arapahoe Basin succeeds when our guests and employees are invited and welcomed for who they are, diversity is respected, and everyone experiences belonging. Inclusion is accomplished through cultivating an internal and external culture of openness, empathy, and a celebration of differences.
We are staying committed to our existing and ongoing philanthropic work, including our support of organizations that know best how to support our local community, such as Family Intercultural and Resource Center, Summit Foundation, and others.
Hosted our first Pride celebration in May 2022.
Launched an employee resource group (ERG) for our women and women-identifying staff (open to all) in 2022. We also offer an avenue for employees to propose and seek support for starting other ERGs. Additionally, we created an opportunity for employees to seek A-Basin support, including financial resources and schedule adjustments, to join outdoor-recreation groups (like Latino Outdoors, Outdoor Afro, and others).
Began a partnership, in 2022, with CareerWise Colorado and took on our first apprentice. CareerWise offers students a chance to engage in a paid, multi-year apprenticeship designed by businesses and offered in partnership with schools.