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5 takeaways from Portland Timbers, Thorns study of workplace culture

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Portland Timbers & Thorns faces criticism from 10 former employees who say the work environment has been hostile to women and working mothers over the past decade. An in-depth investigation by The Oregonian/OregonLive revealed numerous accusations of inappropriate behavior against PTFC’s business president Mike Golub and allegations of indifference against the club’s working mother by owner Merritt Paulson. Found.

Here are five takeaways from The Oregonian/OregonLive survey:

1. Challenges for breastfeeding mothers

A former PTFC employee said she was forced to express breast milk for her child on the day of a 2018 Timbers & Thorns game in a cramped, dusty electric closet on the field level of Providence Park. rice field. Her typical space off game days was the press box suite, and Paulson requested her to move on game days so he could watch the team play from there. Another employee said she witnessed her colleague express breast milk in the bathroom in 2011.

The club says it now has arrangements more suitable for nursing mothers. Golub said a wife or daughter would be happy with the old space, while Paulson denied the space was an electric closet, saying, “I remember she wasn’t happy about it.” Photos and videos confirmed by the press show that the space is exactly as described by the former employee. The closet-sized dusty space was mostly filled with electrical equipment and had a sign outside that read ‘Electrical Room’.

2. Golub’s behavior in the office

According to former employee Blair Nielands, Mr. Golub yelled and frequently got angry in meetings, threw soccer balls and other objects at employees to distract them, and irrelevantly harassed subordinates in the middle of presentations. Quizzing on problems, nibbling on people’s food, taking sips… their drinks, and engaging in boundary-crossing horseplay in an office environment.

Golub denies doing anything inappropriate, but as a “tactile New Yorker,” he admits that physical contact and friendly horseplay are part of his personality and leadership style. there is However, some women accused him of giving him unnecessary shoulder rubs in the office or physically knocking him over with what he described as a “power move.”

According to the team, Golub has undergone multiple sensitivity training. Some of them are self-inducing.

3. DLA Piper Report

PTFC conducted an internal culture review with the recently closed international law firm DLA Piper and said the company identified three issues in the business side of the organization that needed to be addressed. One of these issues involved Golub’s behavior at work, but the team didn’t go into specific details.

The report exposed Paulson for certain misconduct in the workplace, along with a no-controversial assessment of the organization’s football operations, led by general manager Gavin Wilkinson.

“In general, not many companies have undergone a cultural review of the scope and depth that we did with the DLA Piper,” says Paulson.

4. Body commentary

One former employee said Golub commented on her body at work. I suggested that it might be better.

Oregonian/OregonLive confirmed text messages on the day of the alleged incident. This employee discussed the body commentary with his family and felt “disgusted.”

When pressed on the issue, Golub at first appeared to recognize which employee was being discussed, but eventually found out who that person was or what she was referring to. He said he was unaware of any particular incident.

5. Eager Advocate

Some current and former employees defended Golub and Paulson, saying those who spoke critically of the club either had an ax or couldn’t handle the workload. Others said they had never witnessed the behavior described by the ten former employees and that the club’s culture was sound.

Ashley Highsmith, senior vice president of fanservice and events and the company’s longest-serving employee, was the most fervent champion of Golub, Paulson, and the club’s culture.

“I’ve been here for 18 years and built my career here,” Highsmith said. “While working here, I got married and had four children. They gave me every opportunity, and I’ve never held back just because I’m a woman.”

— Ryan Clarke,