Taos Ski Valley is the first ski resort in the world to earn B-Corporation Certification, which is awarded to for-profit companies that meet “the highest standards of verified economic, social and environmental performance, and public transparency.”
Taos Ski Valley CEO David Norden views the B-Corp certification as confirmation of the company’s mission, which is based on “respecting our local communities’ rights, cultures and lifestyles” throughout the ski resort's operation. “For us, this is about being accountable to the community, our guests, our staff, and the partners with whom we work,” Norden said, noting that one of TSV’s goals is to “ensure that we are the ‘employer of choice’ in the area.”
Major programs that helped earn B Corp status for the resort include its Taos Verde Initiative, which contains a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 20 percent by 2020. Other programs include a multi-million-dollar investment in fiber optics and communications that benefited the local community, and raising the employee minimum wage to $10, which is significantly above New Mexico’s $7.50 minimum pay.
This B-Corp recognition follows the lead of new Taos owner Louis Bacon, a long-time Taos skier and hedge-fund billionaire. Bacon purchased the resort in 2013 from the Blake family—New Mexico resort pioneers and an iconic family name in the ski industry. Taos Ski Valley was founded in 1955 by Ernie and Rhoda Blake, and run continuously by family members until the 2013 sale.
“Louis Bacon, a lifelong conservation philanthropist, has been completely supportive of these efforts as the long-held values of Taos are being validated with this certification,” Norden said. “The people who live and work at Taos Ski Valley have long known about our commitment to the community and our investments in the ongoing health of our mountain ecosystem.”
Taos has an iconoclastic legacy, including initially banning snowboarding then opening its slopes in 2008, acknowledging public and financial pressures to end the prohibition. A more recent controversial move, by the new owner, was the installation of the Kachina Peak Lift for the 2014/15 season, opening popular hike-to terrain to lift-access skiers and riders. But as what happened with the end of the boarder ban, the Kachina Peak lift fuss quickly subsided.
B-Corp certification is awarded by the non-profit B-Lab organization, which defines its mission as “a growing global movement of people using business as a force for good.”
Norden is optimistic that Taos is breaking trail for the ski industry. “We hope many resorts follow our lead, and we expect some will," he said. "Not only is being a B Corp the right thing to do, but we expect it will benefit our industry because we know more and more vacationers are committed to traveling to destinations where social responsibility is front and center.”
There are more than 2,000 Certified B-Corps in the world. If you’re keeping score, other familiar B-Corp certified businesses will allow you to stay warm on the slopes, and then enjoy an ice-cream cone and a frosty après beer, with Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s and New Belgium Brewing some of the consumer brands also earning B-Corp honors.
"The B Corp movement is one of the most important of our lifetime, built on the simple fact that business impacts and serves more than just shareholders—it has an equal responsibility to the community and to the planet," is a testimonial by Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia, on the B Corp website.