The “b” in Oboz now stands for B Corp.
The Bozeman-based outdoor footwear company headquartered in Montana has joined the B Corp community of companies using business as a “force for good.”
“Achieving B Corp certification is an incredible milestone and the culmination of our team’s hard work and ongoing collaborations across our entire network of suppliers and partners,” Amy Beck, Oboz Footwear president, said. “B Corp certification is another step in a long journey to become the best corporate and global citizen we can be.”
While Oboz started the process toward B Corp certification in 2021, the company has been working to give back since its founding in 2007. From the beginning, Oboz has planted a tree for every pair of shoes sold and, to date, has planted over 5 million trees, working with Trees for the Future to plant them using its Forest Garden approach. Forest Gardens consist of thousands of trees that provide families with food sources, livestock feed, products to sell and, on average, a 400 percent increase in their annual income for over four years. Oboz’ Forest Garden project has supported the Tabora region of Tanzania since 2020.
“We are very proud of what we have achieved, and we know there is a lot of room for additional collaboration and impact,” Beck said. “Being a part of the B Corp community—and its rigorous certification process—keeps us focused and accountable while connecting us with a broad network of businesses that inspire us and others to continue to push each other for the greater good.”
Oboz has identified climate, circularity and community as initial areas for improvement. Regarding climate and circularity, the company is focusing on material choices, science-aligned targets, and emission reductions within its operations and value chain.
“Circularity is central to our ESG work. We are committed to eliminating the ‘take-make-waste’ approach to business and are expanding our use of responsibly sourced materials including regenerative, recycled or recyclable, bio-based, biodegradable, responsibly farmed or grown [materials],” Beck said. Several products will be introduced next year that directly address the brand’s commitment to circularity, but Oboz is mum on the details for now.
“We also actively use 3D design tools to decrease sample rounds which in turn reduces sample shipments and waste,” Beck added, noting plans to explore “re-commerce in the not-too-distant future.”
As for the community, Oboz is working on expanding its healthcare benefits and increasing diversity among other community-related goals.
“When I joined Oboz, it was very male dominated. I’m proud that today we are close to evenly split, with actually a few more women than men. Along with LGBTQ members among our community we have a broader age range of employees, with almost half [of our] employees under the age of 35,” Beck said. “That said, we have little ethnic and racial diversity. It’s challenging being based in Bozeman, Montana, to find and attract employees who are people of color, but through partnerships and some concerted outreach, we are working to change that. We want Oboz to be a company welcoming to everyone, and for our employee base to reflect that.”
Oboz’s certification comes simultaneously with the B Corp certification of its parent company, KMD Brands, and each of its sister brands, Rip Curl and Kathmandu, which received their certification and recertification, respectively. Oboz was originally going to be certified individually, but due to changes in KMD’s structure and governance, all brands needed to be certified concurrently. Beck said there was “a good amount of overlap, especially on the overall approach to science-based targets and emission reduction plans with suppliers.” Additional synergies concerning supply chain management were found around the Higg Index.
“Achieving B Corp certification across a large and diverse business like KMD Brands is a credit to them and an inspirational demonstration of how to do better business at scale,” Jodi Beasley, senior director of community, B Lab U.S. and Canada, said. “Their focus on continuous improvement sets a leading example for other businesses and sends a powerful signal that will further advance change in the outdoor, lifestyle and sports sectors, and our broader global economic system.”
B Corps are for-profit organizations whose performance is measured across five impact areas: governance, workers, customers, community and the environment. Companies must document their positive impact to apply using the B Impact assessment tool and undergo an independent verification process every three years to achieve and maintain certification. Of the 100,000 corporations that have taken the first step toward qualifying through the assessment tool, less than 4 percent earn the certification. Other recent recipients include Birdies, Adore Me, AGI Denim and Chloé.
“It’s an intense, deep dive process across all functions of the company; the key phrase is ‘all functions,’” Beck said of getting certified. “The actual certification process is the culmination of many months of work to establish policies, document benchmarks and demonstrate actual improvements. It’s one thing to say you use environmentally preferred materials, and it is an entirely different thing to demonstrate this aspiration as a percentage of a shoe’s cost and how it stacks up in terms of best practices. B Corp is all about turning polices into action with measurable results that substantiate improvement over time.”