November 30th, 2019
All in the Family
At its core, any business is a community of people, and nowhere is this more true than at Taos Ski Valley, where so much of what we offer is rooted in the day-in, day-out interactions between our staff and our guests. Indeed, we view our community as being much broader than the employees who comprise this business, because we know that the well-being of our staff reflects within their relationships to our guests, and within their communities of family, friends, and neighbors, creating a ripple effect that reverberates far beyond the resort.
Every ripple begins somewhere, and at Taos, it begins with the Inclusive Economy Challenge. It’s one of our many B Corp™ initiatives focused on improving the lives of the people who come together every single day to continue making Taos Ski Valley a better place to visit and to work.
“The goal is to create an inclusive work environment and pay equity across the board,” explains Jessica Caskey, our Senior Human Resources Manager. “It’s not a radical concept, honestly. It’s just the right thing to do.” Still, like every other state in the union, it’s something New Mexico continues to struggle with; in 2016, the statewide pay gap between women and men was 18%. That’s better than the national average of 20%, but as far as we’re concerned, it’s still far too much.
To do our part to remedy this disparity, as well as to ensure that pay equity reached across all spectrums of the human experience, from race, to parenting, to gender identification, and beyond, we conducted a comprehensive audit to ensure we were offering equal pay for equal work, while also accounting for various factors such as experience and duration of service. Our findings? “I went into it with the mindset that we’d be more off than we were,” says Caskey. “It felt really good to know we’d been doing a pretty good job. There were a couple of areas that needed some work, and we’ve prioritized making those changes.”
Of course, pay equity only matters if the pay is sufficient to support a reasonable standard of living. That’s why we’ve raised our base pay to meet the region’s livable wage, as calculated by Massachusetts Institue of Technology. This rate is more than 50% higher than we are legally obligated to pay, but we believe our moral obligation to our employees is at least as important as our legal one.
Our quest for equity doesn’t begin and end with payroll. Indeed, we are committed to fairness and justice across all aspects of our operation and within the outdoor industry as a whole, “We believe in an equitable and diverse workforce, and at Taos Ski Valley, we plan to continue to lead this charge on these efforts,” says David Norton, CEO of Taos Ski Valley, who recently signed the CEO Outdoor Equity Pledge with Camber Outdoors, a national non-profit organization dedicated to achieving equity for all underrepresented communities in the outdoor industry workplace. “We currently pay a living wage for entry level staff and have completed a thorough wage analysis to ensure there is no pay discrimination based on age, gender, or ethnicity. We are committed to ensuring our staff and leadership reflect our community, and that starts with an in-depth look at our own inclusion efforts. We have made strong commitments to improve in all areas through recruiting, hiring, compensation, on-boarding, training and retention. The Camber Outdoors pledge is only one of the ways we push ourselves to make change to create a more inclusive, socially responsible, and sustainable resort.
At Taos Ski Valley, we don’t pretend to have it all figured out. The issues surrounding equity and justice are complicated and nuanced. Sadly, in many cases, they’re also systemic. So while we can’t promise to do everything perfectly all the time, we can promise to continue asking both ourselves and others if we’re moving in the right direction, and if we’re really doing everything within our power to foster a just and inclusive workplace. We can promise to continue recognizing our role and responsibility, not merely to our staff, but to the broader communities of which we are a part. “One of the most powerful things about the inclusive economy challenge has been the level of transparency it’s brought to Taos,” says Caskey. “People are talking about these issues more honestly than ever. And everyone benefits from that.”