But Kohn admits that Mountain Equipment Co-op has just begun its journey. The company only began to work actively to become a leader in social and environmental responsibility in 1997. It's one thing to enable people to eat trail mix above the treeline in Jasper. It's another altogether to understand the real environmental and labor effects of how your suppliers manufacture your products in countries like China and Vietnam. Kohn admits that MEC has not yet developed any foolproof way to measure perform-ance at such far-flung facilities, though the company does try to inspect those factories.
Kohn isn't fretting the details that remain undone - yet. "We always knew we needed to walk before we could run," he says. Still, the lesson is clear. Even a cooperative business - one that takes in a cool $150 million per year yet proudly forswears profits, that dominates its home market, that serves a progressive clientele - still finds it very difficult even to define what signifies doing good as a company, let alone how a "good" company should act.