This article was originally posted on louisbacon.com
By: David Norden, CEO, Taos Ski Valley
Skiing has long been a recreation of choice for those who take inspiration from nature. After all, it’s one of the few activities where an ordinary person can find himself two miles above sea level, looking out at hundreds of miles of snow capped mountain peaks and a spectacular array of natural elements that are so vital to our lives: water, trees, wildlife, sun and wind.
Unfortunately, as the ski industry grew over the last few decades, conservationists began pointing out the harm the industry was causing to its surroundings. From an over-reliance on fossil fuels, to employment practices that weren’t always fair to workers and radically distort local economies, the ski industry has received its fair share of public outcry, particularly among the conservation- and social justice-minded.
The industry has answered these accusations through a series of approaches, pursuing energy and water efficiency measures and renewable energy sources, working with legislators to enact legislation to address climate change, creatively seeking solutions to employee housing issues, or reducing waste in streams and implementing recycling programs. These have legitimately addressed many concerns and have lead the way to a more concerted effort towards environmental stewardship for the industry.
Taos Ski Valley has taken it a step further. Choosing to “B the change” by becoming the world’s first ski resort to become a certified B Corp, TSV is demonstrating its commitment to deliberate and thoughtful social, economic and environmental actions, and ethically and legally requiring the resort to consider the impact of its decisions on all our stakeholders.
Certified B Corps, for-profit companies officially certified by the nonprofit B Lab, are required to meet the highest standards of verified economic, social and environmental performance, and public transparency. For Taos, this means a documented investment in the people who live in northern New Mexico, a commitment to a sustainable economic future, stewardship of the natural environment, and respect for the visitors who come to experience the area’s beauty and spirit. We like the B-Corp motto: it’s not always about being the best in the world, but to work in a fashion “To Be Best for the World.”
Conservation philanthropist Louis Bacon, the owner of Taos Ski Valley, has been completely supportive of these efforts as they mirror his values. What’s more, his investments in the business and the community through the Taos Ski Valley Foundation are critical to achieving this milestone and demonstrating that a ski resort can, indeed, be a responsible community member, environmentally conscious and profitable.
In addition to doing what is right for the community, staff and the environment, the B Corp initiative is a savvy business move that CEOs everywhere can celebrate. Why? Because vacationers are consistently seeking out ‘responsible travel’ choices and eschewing destinations at odds with their personal values. The ski industry is straight in the crosshairs of this trend, putting our businesses at risk. By making the commitment to become a B Corp, we are providing consumers a way to vote their values with their wallets. And it’s working: Taos’ B Corp announcement has had a direct, positive impact on revenue that we can trace.
There are several key initiatives behind our B Corp status, not the least of which is our Taos Verde initiative, which is a comprehensive set of solutions we are undertaking and the cornerstone of our environmental efforts. I invite you to learn more about Taos Verde here: http://www.skitaos.com/sustainability/
More importantly, I invite all business leaders to explore pursuing B Corp certification for your business. As we’ve demonstrated, this is more than making the commitment to environmental, social and economic justice. We’re making smart business decisions too.