Comment of the Week: Nike’s self-inflicted recruitment challenge

Comment of the Week: Nike’s self-inflicted recruitment challenge

Nike World Campus

Gilded cage? Inside the berm of Nike World
Headquarters near Beaverton.
(Photo: Tracy Lee Carroll)

Is one of the region’s most important companies turning its back on talent by locking its campus off from biking and transit?

It’s hard not to feel that way after reading a series of comments this week from reader s30t. Here’s what s30t wrote in response to last week’s post about the potential for Nike’s planned expansion to finally upgrade nearby bikeways:

Interesting reading through all the comments here. I recently joined Nike, despite having heavy concerns about the commute. One year in I can say my concerns are justified. I try my best to commute by bike (or at least a bike/max combo) – but the time investment is huge. I’ve tried multiple different routes, but I live in NE Portland and it is almost impossible to keep the round trip commute less than 2-2.5 hours via bike or combo bike/public transit combo. if you work with Asia and Europe (which I do) you end up with many early a.m/late calls…that means hopping on my bike at 5 am and not getting back home until 7pm or later. I can see why commuting by bike is not an option for anyone with children (or even a dog for that matter!)

I have been very surprised at how inflexible Nike is about alternative working arrangements (i.e. working from home) which is not what I was led to believe when I interviewed. They want their employees on campus, and do very little to support/encourage biking to campus. It makes me sick to hear of their expansion plans to accommodate an additional 2,500 cars on campus. This place is a zoo already, and the traffic on 26 is horrific. I have enjoyed working for Nike, but honestly, the commute and changes to my work/life balance that I’ve been forced to accommodate due to the commute have me rethinking them as a choice employer.

Several other readers responded thoughtfully, and S30t had a rich exchange about the job and its commute. A few more passages from the thread:

There are many of us in my department who wonder why Nike does not run a shuttle service to campus to cut down on the number of cars. This could be either a centralized ‘park-and-ride’ option – like renting a parking garage downtown (with car AND bike parking) and bussing from there, or something like Microsoft does in Seattle where they have multiple buses picking up employees from different neighborhoods around town. Either would be a great way to cut down on the number of vehicles on 26 and the need for constructing additional parking garages on campus. I also believe charging employees for an annual parking pass would help as well.

You’re right – it’s totally my choice to live in NE and commute to Beaverton. At the time I received the job offer in Beaverton it was not a job I actively looked for (they recruited me) – and I own a home in NE. I was very concerned about the commute, but decided to give it a try anyways. I was optimistic about enjoying my time on the max to read, and get in some extra bike miles every week. At the end of the day though, it just feels like too much time out of my life to give up to getting to/from work and I’m looking for a position back in town.

I’ve been disappointed in Nike for their seeming lack of effort to get people out of their cars. Yes – before anyone pipes up – we do receive TriMet passes, but I know about 3 employees in my building who have actually ever used theirs (aside from taking the max to the airport to avoid paying for parking out there…not exactly the goal of subsidizing transit passes for your employees). I think without a corresponding move to make driving to campus painful (apparently sitting in traffic is not enough for most!) they will continue to see many single car drivers. I believe asking employees to pay for the right to park on campus would generate an immediate drop in the number of cars out here. Offer annual and monthly passes – with a select number of spots reserved for in/out day privileges. If day parking is $15 for a day pass, monthly $250, and an annual pass $2,500 I bet a LOT more people would figure out how to map their TriMet route to campus.

This is just one Portlander’s experience, of course. But that person happens to be a recent hire who Nike went out of its way to recruit and who focuses on exports to the company’s massive overseas markets. It doesn’t seem likely that Nike would be pleased that someone with s30t’s skills is being driven away by the numbing commute — but it does seem as if whatever in-town employer eventually snaps up s30t will be pleased to have those skills on its team.

(Note from the publisher: Starting next week, we’ll be trying a new program to encourage quality commenting. The person we choose for Comment of the Week will receive a crisp $5 bill and a BikePortland sticker pack in the mail. Yes, we pay for good comments. — Jonathan)

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