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Faction Skis, a Swiss company, continues demonstrating its commitment to sustainable and ethical business practices. The company announced this week it has qualified for a B Corp Certification.
B Lab, the non-profit that provides B Corp Certifications, is focused on positively shifting the “behavior, culture, and structural underpinnings of capitalism.” It issues certifications to qualifying companies as part of accomplishing this goal. Notable B Corp certified brands include Patagonia, Ben and Jerry’s, and TOMS.
“As a B Corp, we are committed to using business as a force for good, to catalyze change in the outdoor industry and beyond,” said Alex Hoye, Faction’s co-founder.
To receive a B Corp Certification:
Faction partook in a B Lab assessment that reviewed consumer, employee, and environmental impacts. The company’s final assessment score was 93.5, nearly 25 points over the minimum score to qualify, 80 points.
Preparation for meeting B Lab’s standards began in earnest about four years ago, according to Sara Asmoarp, Faction’s Global Head of Supply Chain and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance). “We wanted to do something that is not only profitable financial-wise but something that really can contribute to a more sustainable future,” she says.
Achieving B Corp status meant Faction needed to review its operating procedures. For Asmoarp, whose job revolves around sustainable business practices, this involved addressing questions like “What energy are you using when you’re producing products?” and “Where do you source your materials from?”
These considerations are only a small slice of the factors B Lab evaluates when issuing certifications. The B Corp assessment deploys over 400 questions to gauge a company’s commitment to ethical business factors. Their criteria address five categories: governance, workers, community, environment, and customers.
Asmoarp notes that managing these criteria meant taking a ground-up approach. “We didn’t want to just drop down all the processes and just say that everything is great. We wanted to really integrate it [ethical and sustainable business practices] into the core of the company.”
Environmental concerns present a unique two-part conundrum to ski companies.
First, the production of ski gear, which often entails shipping products overseas, can be carbon intensive. Second, the continuation of skiing as a sport hinges on preserving our winters. These truths are at odds, creating a significant ethical dilemma.
Faction isn’t blind to this challenge. As part of meeting B-Lab’s criteria, it pursued a sustainability-first approach to manufacturing. The company’s factory, located in Austria, is powered by 100 percent renewable energy. Producing its equipment at a carbon-neutral factory allows Faction to cut the carbon emissions of each ski by 50 percent.
Despite these measures, it’s unavoidable to produce some carbon while shipping skis across the globe. Faction offsets these inevitable emissions by working with Climate Partner, an organization that provides companies with carbon offset tools. Together, Climate Partner and Faction have offset 618,000 kgs of carbon via a wind farm in Brazil.
Another area of focus for Faction is internal governance.
In preparation for pursuing a B Corp Certification, shareholders agreed to update the company’s articles of association—a type of legal framework that guides a business’s mission. Now, according to Faction’s social values page, their articles of association ensure that their decisions “aren’t just led by profits” and “always take into account people and the planet first.”
B Corp will give Faction another assessment in three years. These reassessments confirm that a company is continuing to meet B Corp standards. If a company doesn’t pass the reassessment, its B Corp status will be revoked.
Asmoarp doesn’t seem worried about Faction requalifying. Her goal? Improve on Faction’s previous score during the next reassessment. To Asmoarp, receiving the initial certification is just one step towards greater sustainability. “It’s definitely not that the journey stops here,” she says. Instead, “the journey starts here to be part of the B Corp community.”