Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews | Glassdoor

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews

Updated August 10, 2017
231 reviews

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231 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. "Payroll Assistant"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Payroll Assistant in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Payroll Assistant in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Friendly co-workers
    Payroll Manager is awesome; friendly, flexible, knowledgeable
    Eco friendly building, large windows, fully stocked kitchen, on-site cafeteria with good food
    Security officers help the mother and baby ducks that nest in the onsite ponds cross the street.
    Ergonomic seating
    Finance and payroll departments seems to have a good work/life balance.

    Cons

    More cubicals than offices
    Chilly office temp - bring a sweater

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Aug 30, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your review. I laughed out loud about your chilly office temperature. I too freeze in my office all year. Thanks again and best wishes to you in the future.


  2. Helpful (5)

    "Manager"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    This is a great mission and benefits.

    Cons

    The company culture is not an easy place to work.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Aug 29, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your review. If you have more specifics around the culture, please don't hesitate to reach out to me directly. pam.yanchik@gatesfoundation.org

  3. 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


  4. Helpful (16)

    "Horrific culture, great benefits"

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

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Benefits ( one year paid paternity/maternity leave; free health care)
    Access (influential individuals)

    Cons

    Leadership and employee base lacks cultural competence, particularly in light of the communities the organization works in. There is an overall lack of people of color. Employee surveys explicit reflect that there is a culture of fear, arrogance, and white is right. McKinsey and Deloitte clones run the organization. Look at the lack of racial diversity of the organization, especially within leadership. How does one justify this?

    Advice to Management

    Admit that you are a white is right organization.
    Change this- retain your skilled employees of color (the majority of whom are required to be ten times more qualified than the white employees)hire more employees of color and treat them well. Hire some leadership members who aren't so arrogant. Recognize that while gender is important, race and ethnicity absolutely are critical.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Aug 24, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    “Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughtful feedback with us.

    We believe, our employee workforce should reflect the rich diversity of the global populations we serve, including in... More


  5. 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


  6. Helpful (21)

    "Anonymous"

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

    Pros

    I worked with some wonderful people.
    I had some great supervisors until I got a bad one.
    The mission.
    The benefits.
    I learned so much!
    Saw President Carter and Jane Goodall!!

    Cons

    I was overworked and then thrown away when I got an awful supervisor. It was a horrible demeaning experience, one that I will never forget. I was there for over 6 years and I was very dedicated. It was an amazing learning experience but terrible as well.

    Advice to Management

    If you have long term staff, don't let some one who just started managing them treat them terribly and then get rid of them. Try moving them to another supervisor.
    You need to help to lower the stress level.
    Listen to your staff, care about them and think about how they connect to the mission.
    Above all have a deep respect for EVERYONE.
    Remember All Lives Have Equal Value.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Aug 29, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    I'm sorry that you had a supervisor that created a demeaning situation for you. Please feel free to reach out to me directly if you'd like to share more details. Best of luck to you in the future... More


  7. Helpful (2)

    "Hard problems, amazing colleagues"

    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
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    - Incredibly talented colleagues. Super sharp with deep experience in their field
    - Hard and meaningful problems (financial services for the poor, malaria vector control, agricultural development, etc)
    - Willingness to take bets and apply serious resources to promising solution

    Cons

    - Has become more bureaucratic over time
    - Overemphasis on presentation/performance in talking with leadership about team progress
    - unclear career path for younger employees

    Advice to Management

    Keep being willing to make big bets. Use strategy and analysis to make sure you're making the right bets; don't let it force smaller/safer ones.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Aug 4, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your review. It's always great to get such constructive feedback.

  8. Helpful (4)

    "Program Assistant Role in Global Development"

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

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (More than a year)

    Pros

    Amazing network, great benefits, work from home Fridays, knowledge acquisition. There are always speakers and big events going on at Gates. Attending these events was like getting a masters in topic specific public health without paying tuition. There is a lot of opportunity to learn at Gates.

    Cons

    The culture can be quite cut throat and the tension around the office can get intense. There a many systems in place that do not work effectively and hinder performance.

    Advice to Management

    Work on organization culture. The elitism and ego of many of the higher-ups needs to be toned down.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Aug 24, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your review. I can understand why you were concerned about the culture and the intensity and tension you experienced which is why Sue Hellmann and the executive leadership is so... More


  9. 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


  10. Helpful (5)

    "Real commitment to culture change."

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

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

    Pros

    An amazing mission, many wonderful caring people, challenging global problems, and incredible resources make for a stimulating and dynamic environment.

    Cons

    There's a serious effort underway to improve the culture, and unlock the true potential of this place. It will take some time, but I'm impressed with our CEO's commitment. Culture is a top priority for her and I'm seeing hopeful signs that we're on the right path.

    Advice to Management

    Please commit to culture change for the long haul. Thank you Sue for your leadership courage and vision!

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

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

    It's great that you see Sue Desmond-Hellmann and the Executive Leadership Team's commitment to improving the culture within the foundation. Thanks for taking the time to post about your experience... More


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