Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

  www.gatesfoundation.org
  www.gatesfoundation.org
There are newer employer reviews for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

8 people found this helpful  

A very manic-depressive place to work

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA

I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (more than 3 years)

Pros

The mission, the people, the campus, the chance to do work that actually makes a difference in the world.

Cons

Hierarchy, back-stabbing, bad decision-making, layers and layers of process and bureaucracy on top of everything. Most of the good work I've done here, I did in secret. If I had shared my plans, someone would have tried to kill it.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

Hire people you can trust, and then trust them to make good decisions. Don't insist that every important decision go through you, and that everyone wait while you get around to making those decisions. Allow talented people to do what they do best.

Recommends
Neutral Outlook
No opinion of CEO

114 Other Employee Reviews for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (View Most Recent)

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  1. 24 people found this helpful  

    "All Lives Have Equal Value"-- well, unless you are lower level staff at the Gates Foundation

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Global Health Staff in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Global Health Staff in Seattle, WA

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Great benefits package and 401k contribution
    You will work with some of the smartest scientists and academics in the world

    Cons

    When you're done drinking the Kool-Aid (trust me, it will seem like your "dream job" for the first six months or so, and I suspect most of rare positive reviews of this organization on here are written during that time period), you realize that the day to day operations of the Gates Foundation are in direct contradiction to their own touted Guiding Principles. Lower level staff are treated with a standard of disrespect and dismissal that this organization shoud truly be ashamed of. I'm confident there are pockets of good people at the foundation who treat their program assistants and program coordinators with respect, but they are the minority.

    Your first reorganization may seem easy. But then you realize a year or two in, when you've been re-orged four or five more times, and it's gotten operationally worse each time, that the cycle will never end. Leadership doesn't seem to realize how hard re-orgs are on the staff, since they occur on at least an annual basis. Yes, change is hard, and adapting to that change is part of professional development. But change, just for the sake of change (as it often feels there), is difficult on a whole other level, especially when you don't justify the reasoning behind it or bother to re-evaluate why all the other re-orgs your staff have previously suffered through have miserably failed!

    They've made a habit of forcing people out, inventing or falsifying "performance issues," or just flat out firing staff who bring management issues to HR's attention. HR is, by far, the most unprofessional, untrained and "dirty dealing" department at the Gates Foundation. It's as if they built this non-profit with great ambitions, and lots of smart people, and then created a sub-par HR department as an afterthought. Huge mistake with detrimental consequences. The extremely high turnover at the foundation is in large part due to this department's failings.

    Scientists are often hired for their subject matter expertise, but then also assigned to manage large teams of people. With no previous management experience (and no HR focus on training), you can imagine the issues this causes with regard to appropriate or standardized performance management, coaching, feedback, etc.

    Contracting agencies have the Gates Foundation wrapped around their fingers. They overcharge and have an unhealthy influence over programs and initiatives. The foundation would do well to utilize the collective talent of their staff and bid farewell to the expensive, high maintenance and entrenched contracting firms.

    I can't count the times I saw tears, yelling, swearing and childish fit throwing as a direct result of managers and HR condoning an unprofessional and backstabbing culture. If you value your work-life balance, this is not the organization for you. If you want professional development or a career path, this is not the place for you to realize those goals.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Realize that your HR department needs a re-org, just like every other department has been forced to do several times over the past few years. Hire true HR professionals that are effective and actually care about humans.

    Wonder why so many people in the Global Health division have quit? Have you even noticed that there has been a mass exoduss of GH staff in the past couple years? Do you not care? Why have you done nothing to address the issues employees have identifed over and over and over again before they walk out the door? Apply your Guiding Principles with your staff, just like you do with grantees, and I bet you find that more people are willing to stay and help carry out the mission.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2. 9 people found this helpful  

    Great mission, rewarding work but unhealthy culture of backstabbing, disrespect and lack of leadership.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    If you want to work with some of the brightest people, use the latest technology and feel like you're making a difference then this is an amazing place to work. The campus is beautiful and the benefits are exceptional. Great place for people who are self starters, who know what to do and just do it. The operations areas are among the more people-friendly areas in which to work. There is a great deal of opportunity here.

    Cons

    Unfortunately this is a very challenging environment. The executive management team doesn't seem to have a clue as to what the "worker bees" need to get their jobs done. Their answer is process and more process. Just when you think there can't possibly be another set of templates, another committee, another whole department with some long acronym designed to help you get stuff done... And, at the end of the day, you are just a cog in the machine. They know the work will chew you up in 2 or 3 years tops. And they don't care because there is an endless parade of wide eyed people eager to have a chance to work there.
    Many managers have no idea how to manage people. Don't bother complaining to HR though. HR is the department of platitudes.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Do more listening and less talking. There is survey after survey that illustrates that people are hungry for the truth, hungry for a healthy culture that is on par with the caliber of the mission. And hire managers who know how to manage, who are leaders and mentors. And hire some HR people who care about humans.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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