Vail Resorts CEO Cites ‘Personal Failing’ on Race, Urges Change

(Bloomberg) -- Vail Resorts Inc. Chief Executive Officer Rob Katz said his company and industry haven’t done enough to improve racial diversity in skiing, calling his own lack of action a “personal failing.”

“As much as I have been saddened seeing these acts of racism across our country, I am also confronted by the fact that our company and our sport are overwhelmingly white, with incredibly low representation from people of color,” Katz said in a memo this week, reflecting on the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis.

The statement is among the more pointed in a series of such messages from corporate chiefs in recent days, many of which have come with pledges of donations to social-justice organizations.

Noting his three decades in the ski industry and 14 years heading Vail Resorts, Katz said, “I must also confront that I have not done enough to make progress. I see this as a personal failing. On something that is not only a moral and societal issue, but a business issue.”

Beyond barriers to skiing participation that everyone confronts, such as costly equipment and hard-to-reach mountains, the sport has an insular culture marked by “deep implicit bias,” Katz said.

“While I would like to think that I have been an agent of change in this industry, a decade later I am still running a company that has very limited racial diversity,” the CEO said.

Katz said a coming employee event would focus on gender and racial diversity, and ways to create a more inclusive environment. “If we genuinely want to address racial inequality, let’s start by talking about what part we play in it -- not just make statements about how others can do better,” he said. “This is a conversation I intend to embrace with more urgency.”

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