SAM Magazine—Taos Ski Valley, N.M., Aug. 19, 2021— Taos Ski Valley has raised its starting pay for entry-level positions to $15 per hour, exceeding the living wage of $14.94 for Taos County, as stated by the MIT Living Wage Calculator. Taos Ski Valley’s living wage increase is coupled with a plan to expand staff housing, with the aim of providing an affordable lifestyle for Taos Ski Valley staff.
“Taos Ski Valley is committed to doing the right thing for its staffers, including offering not just a ‘good wage’ but a true living wage so its staffers can work at the resort, and live in the community,” said resort spokesperson Claire Mylott. Taos’s new $15 hourly starting rate is more than 40 percent above the state of New Mexico’s minimum wage.
The resort’s focus on a living wage rather than a minimum wage is deliberate. “We made a commitment to pay our staff a living wage several years ago and have continually updated our pay scale accordingly and do an annual pay equity analysis,” said Dawn Boulware, Taos vice president of social and environmental responsibility.
Taos also recognized a need to expand its affordable staff housing. The resort has 70 rooms and 100 beds currently available to staff, but plans to add 40 more rooms for the upcoming season.
In addition to expanding housing and increasing the starting wage, for the 2021-22 winter season, Taos, in conjunction with Spot Insurance, will offer full-time year-round and full-time seasonal staff 24/7 accident insurance with up to $25,000 of coverage per accident, even if they have existing health coverage. That coverage is in addition to existing benefits like a 401(k) plan, paid health days, and the ubiquitous free season pass.
The changes are driven at least in part by the resort’s mission as a Certified B Corp to conduct business in a manner that benefits employees, visitors, and the community through social responsibility, environmental sensitivity, and economic sustainability. Taos also has a more diverse workforce: More than 35 percent of the Taos workforce self-identifies as people of color, and almost 40 percent identifies as female.
“We still have work to do,” said Boulware. “But we know step one is ensuring our staff have a living wage, a place to live, and a socially responsible and inclusive working environment.”