Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews | Glassdoor

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews

Updated August 21, 2017
232 reviews

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232 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
  • The issues that are worked on are so important that work life balance can be a struggle (in 17 reviews)

  • Decision making is often hamstrung by politics (in 17 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (2)

    "Great mission but difficult decision making"

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

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    You can't beat the mission. I love that what I do contributes to a better world. People are incredibly nice and arguably too nice because it makes decision making difficult.

    Cons

    Tasks are inefficient. To get anything accomplished, you need to have multiple coffee conversations with multiple stakeholders.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

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

    Thanks so much for your feedback. I'd love to chat with you about your experience and the decision making challenges you seem to be having. Would you be willing to have a meeting with me to discuss... More


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Fantastic Organization with a Great Mission (and some disfunction)"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time

    Pros

    The Mission - You feel great, that you have helped the world become a better place
    The Benefits - You will NEVER have benefits this great...
    The WorkPlace - Every office is new with a good focus on making the workplace world renowned for its staff

    Cons

    Shifting Priorities - The Foundation's mission is consistent, but constant revisions to projects and priorities creates a never-ending feeling of start/stop, re-org, starting new work, end work, sometimes restarting etc.
    Experts as managers - Bringing 'field' experts (educational or medical) in to act as managers...when that is not really their skill sets creates unrealistic expectations and sometimes poor management situations.
    Technology - with as much endowment as the foundation has one is always surprised at how poor/outdated their overall technology is (financial, Data, Grant Management etc.)

    Advice to Management

    Simplify. Be Bold. Take Risks. Update your technology. Develop Project Management skills. Let SME be experts and hire/organize yourself so you have strong people managers. Keep doing great things.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Mar 13, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your post. I'm pleased to see that your advice to management are all areas of focus for the ELT and other senior leaders as we work on improving the culture of the organization.... More

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Great benefits and mission to engage in"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Program Assistant in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Program Assistant in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Benefits, location, time off, shared mission

    Cons

    There is a very heavy, liberal political cloud that encompasses everything, despite the foundation's official "neutral" stance.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Mar 13, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your review.


  4. Helpful (1)

    "Great mission and nice place to do meaningful work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Program Assistant in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Senior Program Assistant in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great compensation and benefits
    Working on improving culture

    Cons

    Limited career development opportunities
    People tend to have an entitled attitude

    Advice to Management

    Managers need to learn how to be better people managers.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Mar 13, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for taking time to post this review. We have found that there are a lot more career development opportunities than what most may realize. Sue and the ELT are very focused on ensuring... More


  5. Helpful (4)

    "Great if you are on the right team"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time

    Pros

    The benefits are amazing. Campus is beautiful. You feel that you are a part of good work in the world.

    Cons

    It's an org full of Type-A workaholics. Your experience will vary wildly depending on whether your manager has the time and/or ability to manage their team.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Mar 13, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for posting this helpful review. We certainly have an organization of deeply committed individuals and sometimes our time for management has been de-prioritized but hopefully, you will... More


  6. Helpful (23)

    "Great mission; poor culture"

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

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Work on large-scale, transformative solutions to gnarly global challenges. There is no other place that does this kind of work at this scale. People are very smart (& they know it!).

    Cons

    The culture is very bad and management is very slow to implement change. A recent employee survey quoted the culture as one of "sharks and vultures." There is also an unspoken hubris centered around the 'white savior' complex that manifests itself in the outsized influence we have in the global development space. This is due, in part, to the lack of diversity in hiring both ethnically and academically. It is not a humble organization and it does not hire a lot of humble people b/c the outspoken, self-promoters are rewarded and thus, that behavior is reinforced. I have seen my colleagues plagiarize the work of our grantees, take credit for work they did not do (through benign 'lack of acknowledgement'), relentlessly self-promote, and hide failures in order to protect their reputations - all so, they can be visible. Additionally, there are few opportunities to get promoted despite the plethora of jobs. In one instance, I heard a manager say that "we hire for a job; not a career."
    Even many long term staff admit that the only reason they stay is b/c of the "golden handcuffs." The salary and benefits are so generous that it makes it hard to leave, especially in Seattle where there are few other options where you can go to do mission-oriented work and still make a corporate salary.

    Advice to Management

    Make the effort to actually walk the halls and talk to your employees. Especially those who may not be visible or known in the organization. I don't see sr. leadership and managers proactively doing anything other than talking about it in all staff meetings and then, delegating implementation to everyone else. It would be good for them to lead through action.
    Train managers to be managers. Full stop. Just b/c you are a Ph.D. scientist, a communications guru or economist from the World Bank does not mean you will be a good manager.
    Get rid of the bonus system. The salaries at the Foundation are very generous. The bonus system just encourages and perpetuates the aforementioned bad behavior. Use the money on making transformative changes for the world.
    Hire for more diversity! Diverse ethnicities; diverse academic backgrounds; diverse employment backgrounds.
    There is a noticeable split between how introverts and extroverts are treated. Those who speak the most and loudest, get the attention and rewards.
    Get rid of the matrix.
    Learn and incorporate best practices from other big, complex organizations.
    Provide a safe avenue for employees to talk about the culture.
    As a data-driven organization, it would be worth looking into the data on health & wellness from the Vera Whole Health Center "Health & Wellness" coaching program. I think that shed a lot of insight on the well-being of employees.
    Reward people for staying off-line during non-business hours. Small signals like that can wonders.
    Review and overhaul HR. It might be worthwhile to do an employee survey to see how HR is really serving the employees vs. serving leadership.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Jan 31, 2017 – 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


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Program Officer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time

    Pros

    Good compensation. Smart people. Friendly colleagues.

    Cons

    Bureaucracy makes it difficult to achieve goals.

    Advice to Management

    Prioritize staff management.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Mar 13, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your post. I am pleased to hear the positive comments about your colleagues. Staff management is definitely a focus for leadership over the next few years. If you'd like to provide... More

  8. Helpful (3)

    "Program Assistant"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Program Assistant in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Program Assistant in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Less than a year)

    Pros

    opportunities for growth, great compensation, amazing facilities, great people to work with

    Cons

    better knowledge management system and processes

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Jan 31, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your review. It's always helpful to hear from our new employees. I would hope that you could reach out to your leadership around the needs you and your colleagues have around... More


  9. "True mission driven org"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time

    Pros

    Impact, opportunity, community, ambition, learning

    Cons

    Intense, expectations, career path, removed

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Jan 31, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your timely review. I'd love to chat with you about career path if you'd be willing. We have a lot more career opportunities than many employees realize but I'd love to hear... More


  10. "Program Assistant"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time

    Pros

    Exposure to different areas that are about improving lives

    Cons

    Super fast paced, rarely time to pause and reflect

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Jan 31, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your review. We are definitely a fast paced organization with a desire to make a large impact in the world. If there are other things you'd like to share directly with me please... More


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