Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews in Seattle, WA | Glassdoor

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Seattle Reviews

Updated February 27, 2017
147 reviews

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Seattle, WA

3.1
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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann
Susan Desmond-Hellmann
41 Ratings

147 Employee Reviews

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

  • decision making either drawn out or not thought thoroughly through (in 17 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Great benefits and mission to engage in"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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.


  2. "Great mission and nice place to do meaningful work"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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


  3. Helpful (2)

    "Program Assistant"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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


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  5. Helpful (13)

    "Great mission; poor culture"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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 0, 0000 – 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


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Program Officer"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Program Officer, Global Development in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Program Officer, Global Development in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Stimulating environment and excellent place to work if you have a fantastic manager and autonomy. You'll find people who love the foundation and those who don't, and the differentiating factor is very often your manager and portfolio.

    Cons

    You'll hear mixed reviews of managers. There is too much inward focus on strategy. The organization could use more soul and a more earnest ear to hearing outside criticism.

    Advice to Management

    Reflect more on how public policy changes the environments the foundation works in.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Jan 5, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thank you so very much for your thoughtful review of the foundation. We are continuing to work on our leadership and management expectations to ensure that all employees have a great manager to ... More


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Great place to learn and grow"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Summer Intern in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Summer Intern in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    You get the opportunity to work with smart, passionate people to solve some of the world's biggest problems. Great "campus" feel in Seattle--I felt proud walking in to work every day

    Cons

    Feels very siloed--at a big organization, hard for all the teams and departments to talk to each other. Also, some people seem kind of complacent in their roles; you might not necessarily get a fast-paced startup feel here at such a big, bureaucratic nonprofit, but it varies based on what team you're on.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Nov 14, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    I so appreciate your review! It sounds like you had a great opportunity as a summer intern. Thanks for your insight around the areas for improvement - they are very helpful. Best of luck in your ... More


  8. Helpful (21)

    "Information Technology"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    - Benefits
    - Location
    - Employee resources

    Cons

    - Management/Leadership
    - Culture
    - Transparency

    Zero transparency, always saying the right things but doing the opposite.

    High-performing individuals get driven out and low-performing individuals get promoted.

    Management is only interested in managing upwards.

    Advice to Management

    Listen to the employees performing the work and make a concerted effort.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

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

    Thanks so much for your posting. I'm sorry that you had a less than positive experience. If you have specific feedback, I'd be happy for you to reach out to me directly. As you likely know, we are ... More


  9. Helpful (9)

    "Manager"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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


  10. Helpful (3)

    "Great place to work!"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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
    Positive Outlook

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

    Pros

    Amazing benefits, beautiful campus and meaningful work. The people who work there are passionate for what they do and believe in the mission.

    Cons

    The issues that are worked on are so important that work life balance can be a struggle. When a person knows that their work might impact people's lives they tend to put more time and effort into it, meaning home life can suffer.

    Advice to Management

    To hone their management skills. Many times the people who are in leadership are trained as scientists or doctors, not managers of people. More skill in this area is always a good thing.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

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

    Thank you so much for your review. It is wonderful to work at an organization with such an amazing mission. As you note, that sometimes causes employees to struggle around work life balance. In ... More


  11. "Payroll Assistant"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    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.



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