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Governor Kate Brown Pays Bora a Visit

by Bora Architects

As you may have noticed, we’re strong advocates for paid family leave. We believe it’s the right thing to do for our employees, and we know it has a net positive effect financially as well. So we haven’t exactly been shy about encouraging other businesses to embrace a similar approach. Apparently we’ve been loud enough to catch the ear of Oregon Governor Kate Brown! Vince Porter, Policy Advisor to the Governor, called to ask if Principal Amy Donohue and CFO Dawn Ridenour would be willing to meet and discuss our program, in conjunction with a variety of other women business leaders involved in implementing paid family leave plans. We learned that Governor Brown has made paid leave a focus of her upcoming campaign, and naturally we were thrilled to participate. Of course Amy offered to host the whole event in our Design Lab!

Last Friday, for about an hour on a balmy Portland afternoon, the Governor and her Policy Advisor Vince Porter sat and met with Amy and Dawn, Rose City Mortgage founder Renee Spears, FMYI operations director Katrina Yuen, Swift co-founder and CEO Liz Valentine, and Oregon House of Representatives Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson. Governor Brown was interested in what policies could be put in place to better support Oregonians in balancing work and life, and we shared more details of our own policy, including the fact that it follows the currently established rules of the Oregon Family Leave Act. Renee and Katrina discussed their own unlimited PTO policies, and Katrina mentioned how FMYI insists all employees take two consecutive weeks of vacation. Liz informed the group of Swift’s flexible work schedules, and how they’ve been able to reduce their turnover rate by half as a result.

After discussing the various plans and their effects on company culture and employee happiness, the group made a couple of recommendations to Governor Brown. California’s state-funded employment insurance program came up as a model to consider. Ultimately though, the key point of the meeting was the value of hiring and retaining talented people. Everyone agreed that after investing time and effort training our employees, losing them is so much more expensive than providing these policies for paid leave. Rather than touting the “affordability” of a specific benefit, we should be talking about the (significantly larger) savings firms will enjoy through talent retention. And a workplace filled with happy, skilled, knowledgeable people is just better all around.

We’re honored and delighted to have had the opportunity to talk with such a motivated group of government and business leaders, and thoroughly enjoyed Governor Brown’s visit. And if you’re interested in learning more about implementing these types of policies, get in touch. You’re in good company!