Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews | Glassdoor

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews

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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann
Susan Desmond-Hellmann
9 Ratings

25 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Great benefits for full-time employees, not interns or part time (in 36 reviews)

  • Great mission, fabulous people and actively working to get better all the time, with the resources to do it (in 28 reviews)

Cons
  • Work life balance might be difficult (in 17 reviews)

  • Extreme bias btwn full time and contract employee (in 15 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (11)

    "Manager"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Human Resources in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Human Resources in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time

    Pros

    -Great benefits
    -Pay is good for non-profit space
    -Beautiful campus
    -Smart, dedicated employees for the most part

    Cons

    -Highly political and cold culture
    -Too many C-level execs from Silicon Valley (no diversity) who don't seem committed to building and improving the culture. Lots of promises but no results. This all starts at the top with the co-chairs - they have the power to make the change.
    -HR and IT Chiefs are egocentric and focused on promoting themselves via publications. Seem to be disconnected from the day-to-day work that's required to adequately support the programs

    Advice to Management

    Co-Chairs should carefully evaluate, and measure the results of the Chief Leadership team on a regular basis and be prepared to make hard decisions and trade-offs for the betterment of the organization. This could include bringing in new talent from other parts of the world in the spirit of diversity.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Nov 9, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thank you for taking the time to share this honest feedback with us. As you know, our work is founded on the belief that all lives have equal value, and we aim to create a workplace that lives up to... More


  2. Helpful (18)

    "Zero"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Program Coordinator
    Former Employee - Program Coordinator
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time

    Pros

    Endless resources
    Pay grade for Seattle is high (but low compared to other major cities)

    Cons

    Unbelievably cold culture mixed with arrogant white savior syndrome. The constipated Seattle vibe is fully showcased here. Zero joy, zero camaraderie, zero team spirit. It's nothing like any nonprofit I've ever worked for before or since. Everyone walks around insisting that all the good work they're doing is worth the overwhelming sense of despair they feel. All that "good work" is basically about giving for-profit corporations backdoor access to developing or underserved markets with zero civic oversight or transparency.

    There is zero career growth or training. I saw qualified internal employees who had been there for over 5 years in the same low level admin positions apply for positions and get turned down again and again. Every three months someone would quit. Positions would sit unfilled for 6 months or more. Just as soon as someone would be hired, two more people would quit. The average tenure of anyone there was 1-2 years. Can you imagine starting a job where most people were almost as new as you are?

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Sep 15, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughtful feedback with us.
    The leadership is focusing on career growth and opportunities as part of the work around our culture. If you'd like to share... More

  3. Helpful (12)

    "Mission is good, the leadership is bad"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Benefits are top notch. Salary is somewhat comparable. The backbone and passion lies in the people and the grant makers.

    Cons

    The challenge is that operations departments like HR and IT are run by egocentric people. If you look at these leaders, they are more interested in gettign an article in a magazine, working on fluff projects, and speaking to industry people, than actually running their operational teams. It is amazing how much money gets spent internally on remodeling for a "better IT" experience, instead of funding grants. In the programs you have the presidents doing pretty much whatever they want, so there is no congruity in the process and how money gets spent in this organization.

    Advice to Management

    Start acting hungry. Start acting like other non-profits, act humbly, not like the guerrilla in the room.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Nov 7, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your post. I'm sorry that you have a negative opinion about the leaders in HR and IT. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me directly with your specific feedback. We are always... More


  4. Helpful (4)

    "Noble mission and goals, but substandard management/execution"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Program Officer in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Program Officer in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great mission and visionary goals. The large endowment and payout make the Gates Foundation a true game changer in the development business. Advocacy by the Co-Chairs has tremendous potential.

    Cons

    Lots of shifting strategies. Lack of clear priorities and institutional policies - change in leadership/director roles brings change in entire teams. HR is not well developed. Country offices are a drag.

    Advice to Management

    Make clear policies that transcend individuals. HR and other operational functions need to be clear and not subject to whims of individuals at President/Director level. Create independent advisory groups to enable this. CEO has an opportunity to do so.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Sep 6, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful feedback. We are definitely establishing more clarity around our HR policies but if you have specific feedback on this, please reach out to me directly... More


  5. Helpful (24)

    "Rode hard and...yeah..."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Project Coordinator in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Project Coordinator in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    The mIddle- and low-level employees that actually get the day-to-day work done are amazing individuals. Some of the smartest, most compassionate people I've ever met. Great benefits package (5 stars). Salaries are good for those coming from the non-profit world, but no where near where they need to be for the level of work that's being done (1 star).

    Cons

    Leadership is not interested in employee development whatsoever. They say that each person has a budget allowance for it each year, but in 8 years, none of my requests were ever approved. Management is more interested in paying BIG BIG bucks to McKinsey and the like instead of developing their own talent. Good employees are used and abused and then unceremoniously let go when their positions have been "phased out" due to yet another reorganization.

    Advice to Management

    A little bit of respect goes a long way in helping your employees feel valued. The foundation does such great work, but if every employee felt appreciated, there would be no end to what you could accomplish.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Nov 8, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thank you for taking the time to share this honest feedback with us. As you know, our work is founded on the belief that all lives have equal value, and we aim—sometimes falling short—to create a... More


  6. Helpful (13)

    "Feeling the Churn"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Program Officer Global Policy &Amp; Advocacy
    Former Employee - Senior Program Officer Global Policy &Amp; Advocacy
    Doesn't Recommend

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

    Pros

    Great, dedicated colleagues at staff level. Great name value (but making a lot of enemies). Lots of frequent flyer miles b/c you are never home.

    Cons

    Internal politics and capricious management that starts and stops strategies so often it is dysfunctional. Uses and discards employees so much you lose count of the "he/she has decided to leave the organization to pursue other opportunities."

    Advice to Management

    Take stock of why a 15-yr-old organization has such a massive # of alums!

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Nov 8, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    First, I want to apologize for my tardy reply. I want to thank you for taking the time to give us feedback. I am sorry that the experience here at the foundation felt dysfunctional. We continue to... More


  7. Helpful (2)

    "This place is not all its said to be..."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Senior Management
    Former Contractor - Management Consultant in Seattle, WA
    Former Contractor - Management Consultant in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a contractor (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    You feel good to know you are helping a greater cause.

    Cons

    I had worked as a consultant for nearly 6 years at the gates foundation in Seattle. I had implemented and created a project which went directly up to both Bill and Melinda. However, in the time I had worked there I had gone through harassment and verbal abuse from my boss. My boss at the foundation spoke to me like I was garbage and took all the credit for my work. Not only did he take advantage of my hard work he also harassed me and asked me out on dates. I had complained time and time again but nothing was done. I am not the only woman that has gone through this at the foundation. They are dealing with a lot of similar cases. This place does NOT value people. The verbal abuse I went through in my years working at the foundation became very intolerable and I had to leave for my own safety and mental sanity. I wish I had better things to say-being over worked is fine but the lack of appreciation and the amount you have to truly endure from "management" is just baffling.

    Advice to Management

    Please treat your team's better, value your employees and remember you are not holier than though because you are management. The foundation has lost many great people over the years because of reasons very similar to this. I suggest that management actually start working and stop pointing fingers. Stop sitting on Facebook or Linkedin looking for jobs while treating your employees like garbage. Focus on the message that the foundation is supposed to stand for.

  8. Helpful (25)

    "The Hunger Games lived daily."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Business Analyst in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Business Analyst in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Mission & benefits but not worth abuse from colleagues and managers.

    Cons

    Management is incompetent; crippled by bureaucracy. They can't make a decision without hiring at least two consulting firms tell them what they should do. The consulting firms have this figured out and take advantage at every turn, but management can't see it.

    Fear of technology and change is a core competency at the foundation. Stay away from IT if you like working with the latest and greatest technology. Change management and holding the users hand are the most critical elements of a project. If you don't like writing job aids for bone headed talks, the foundation is not for you.

    The foundation has implemented the stack ranking review process Microsoft abandoned two years ago. It was very interesting to see how it plays out in a female dominated workplace. It is much more brutal than at Microsoft. Lies about my character, that my boss knew was false ended up in my review. I've seen four people in four years get fired by my boss or direct reports because they don't like them. The environment reminds me of the sorority I quit in college. There is no teamwork.

    Advice to Management

    Stop rearranging the furniture and implement change that actually gets things done. You're still doing things the old way and you're never going to be successful at large IT projects until you get rid of the bureaucracy. I'mThe problem is the people and the culture not how the desks are arranged.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Jun 24, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    I'm sorry your experience wasn't a positive one during your time at the foundation. If there's anything else you'd like to share, please don't hesitate to reach out to me directly... More


  9. Helpful (12)

    "Not getting better"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Anonymous in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Great mission
    Lots of great smart, dedicated mission driven colleagues
    Interesting work

    Cons

    New leadership all from silicon valley - lots of hubris
    Not realistic in expectation setting or the state of systems and processes, we can't wave our arms and just "do something different"
    Things are getting worse not better
    New executive leadership is as dysfunctional as ever

    Advice to Management

    start over with new Ops Executive leadership team members. Give CEO the real story.
    CEO needs to appreciate operations instead of showing open disdain.


  10. Helpful (4)

    "Help the needy but don't expect help for yourself"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Great benefits and endless resources.

    Cons

    This place doesnt value their employees. It's practice encourage unhealth competion and back stabbing. No room forwork/family balance when unreasonable demands are placed on workers. Feeling burnout is common, not only because of the long hours but also the lack of trust.

    Advice to Management

    Change the culture


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