An adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia apparently has the ability to detect who is gay, lesbian, trans, etc. at North American ski resorts.
Writing in BIVnews.com, Elisabeth Cooke says the skiing and snowboard communities are losing out on economic opportunity by not diversifying.
“As a lesbian in North Vancouver I have spent most of my life with the mountains as my backyard,” Cooke (pictured) writes. “I feel very comfortable at ski resorts and have had the privilege of skiing all over the country. But if I pause and look around, I don’t see a lot of diversity or other LGBTQ+ folks, at least not regularly.”
You may be familiar with the word “gaydar,” a term used facetiously for someone who can spot homosexuals. It seems Cooke actually has it. For how else could she know that skiers around her are gay? Are they wearing a rainbow-colored ski vests? Or something else (pictured)?
These questions notwithstanding, Cooke says ski resorts at least can be much more open about their LGBTQ+ “allyship.” They could, for example, mimic the 30-year-old Whistler’s Pride and Ski Festival, “definitely one of the world’s largest queer-focused ski weekends.”
Cooke conservatively estimates that by doing just this, an additional 315,000 skiers could be on the slopes.
There is certainly apprehension from minority groups other than the LGBTQ+ community towards engaging in outdoor recreational activities […] Generally, it comes down to a lack of belonging. Discrimination and harassment, lack of visibility, and a lack of exposure from a young age all play a role in the dramatically decreased representation of minority groups in outdoor activities. …
The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) reported on the U.S. Downhill Snowsports Demographics for 2021/22. They show that nearly 90% of skiers in the US are white. It’s likely the data is similar in Canada.
Leaves me with the questions: What is holding back the Canadian ski industry from growing the market to its full potential? The projected growth of the market could be 40-80 million dollars and is just for the inclusion of the LBGTQ+ community. The market for ski equipment and ski resorts is in the billions of dollars and is on a steady path for growth. Surely the opportunity to expand that market is worth considering for all key players.
Unsurprisingly, Cooke is the co-founder and CEO of an “inclusive employee engagement platform” called Dignii. According to her site bio, she is “a trusted advisor to government, organizations and associations, and industry,” as well as the founder of the (seemingly moribund) organization Inclusivity.
At UBC, Cooke teaches employment law at the Saunder School of Business.
h/t Jonathan Kay
IMAGES: Elisabeth Cooke/Linkedin; Chris Harvey/Twitter