Portland company implements $15 minimum wage

Ruby Receptionists aims to keep workers’ wages in line with rising costs of living in Portland.

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Portland-based Ruby Receptionists raised its starting wage to $15 an hour, joining the trend of young Northwest businesses setting a higher pay floor.

The virtual receptionist company allowed for an average of a dollar raise for its 150 receptionists on staff, the Portland Business Journal reports.

The company’s CEO, Jill Nelson, said it wasn’t a business decision, but rather a quality-of-life decision for her employees.

“We always wanted to feel like we were paying the right wage but I think a lot of it was what was going on in the outside world and what a living wage actually is,” she said, alluding to the discussions around the city of Portland’s move to a $15 minimum wage for municipal workers and bills before the Oregon legislature.

The team started looking at the $15 starting wage earlier this month during regular compensation planning. Once the idea was broached, Nelson took it to the company’s new owners, private equity firm Updata Partners. They agreed that it was a good idea: “It also helps us to continue to scale and grow,” she said, noting that even in the week since the internal announcement was made productivity and employment referrals have gone up.

A new poll by a Portland firm found that the majority of Oregonians support a $12 minimum wage, which equals just under $25,000 salary for a full-time position.

Ruby Receptionists was the seventh-best large company to work for in Oregon Business magazine’s 2015 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon list.

From the Portland Business Journal:

Moore Information Inc., a public opinion research firm with offices in Portland and Washington, D.C., said 55 percent of Oregon residents support a $12 minimum wage while 41 percent oppose the idea. Only 4 percent of people polled had no opinion on the subject. Oregon lawmakers are currently mulling bills that would increase the state’s minimum wage, which increased by 15 cents on Jan. 1 to $9.25 an hour. But the polling on the subject suggests public opinion leans in favor of an increase on the lower end of the spectrum. 

The Moore poll results found significantly higher support in Multnomah County (66 percent to 28 percent) than anywhere else in the state. The Willamette Valley as a whole supports the idea by a narrow margin (53 percent to 42 percent), but poll respondents outside of the region oppose a higher minimum wage (44 percent in favor to 53 percent opposed).


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