Human Rights Watch Reviews | Glassdoor

Human Rights Watch Reviews

Updated May 22, 2017
41 reviews

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3.9
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Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth
Kenneth Roth
16 Ratings

41 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • great experience that offered a lot of opportunities to learn from and work with multiple departments (in 6 reviews)

  • Great people, great experience at a great organisation (in 5 reviews)

Cons
  • Also, internships are unpaid and often 25 (in 10 reviews)

  • limited office space but no real cons great people and atmosphere would love to work full time (in 3 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Summer Intern"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC

    I worked at Human Rights Watch (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great people doing great work, lots of interesting topics to learn about, well respected organization

    Cons

    DC office is a bit quiet, whether or not you are assigned rewarding work has a lot to do with luck


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Amazing substance, difficult organization"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Human Rights Watch (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Working closely with human rights activists and investigators at one of the most respected human rights organizations in the world. Gaining substantive and organizational knowledge. Highly mission-driven and principled to a fault.

    Incredible, at times world-changing, work.

    Cons

    Management is dysfunctional on many levels. The usual NGO politics and egos. Work culture is highly dependent on the heavily silo-ed divisions. Some are amazing, some are toxic. Extreme naval-gazing.

    Organization grew (too) quickly and deals each year with difficulties balancing budgets etc.

    Don't expect growth here without a significant fight.

    Advice to Management

    Centralize administrative functions. Be willing to shed managers and staff who act inappropriately, can't manage staff, or otherwise behave in ways detrimental to staff morale.

    Constant turnover and departure of staff (researchers and associates) could be prevented but only with more than a rhetorical committment to their concerns.


  3. "On the cutting edge, paying for it with your persona life"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Researcher in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Researcher in New York, NY
    Recommends

    I have been working at Human Rights Watch full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Best investigative research in the industry. Lots of autonomy. Lots of support if you get the right supervisor, can be a disaster if you don't.

    Cons

    Work/life balance is a myth and a dream. Extremely intense expectations. It's worth it because the outcomes are top-notch, but it's a lot of inputs.

    Advice to Management

    Invest in actual management consulting/training. Hold bad managers accountable, and not only for high-profile public gaffes. Reward good managers who spend time actually managing and not just promoting the organization externally.


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  5. Helpful (2)

    "Excellent organization"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Managing Director in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Managing Director in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Human Rights Watch (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Top notch organization, excellent executive director, programs are run very well.

    Cons

    I think there could be more training opportunities for younger staff.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "DC Office"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Research Intern in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Research Intern in Washington, DC
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Worked with great people, very passionate about the work. Wonderful company culture and office dynamics, and the kitchen is always fully stocked (!!!). Higher-up management made themselves accessible to interns and provided helpful career workshops

    Cons

    Unpaid, but that's typical of DC


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Great place to work and learn!"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Multimedia Intern in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Multimedia Intern in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Human Rights Watch (Less than a year)

    Pros

    -great working environment
    -passionate employees
    -felt like more than just an intern and had a lot of value

    Cons

    very traumatizing material and subject matter to work with everyday


  8. Helpful (8)

    "Excellent mission but very top-down"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Associate in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Senior Associate in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Human Rights Watch full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    The staff at HRW are all smart, dedicated, and experts in their field and the mission makes one want to work hard and commit to building the organization.

    Cons

    While there are a lot of opportunities for growth, this is largely limited to more senior staff, with little potential for promotion or upward mobility at the entry level/associate level positions. Also, there is little transparency in the decision-making process with only a few senior staff being privy to the strategic planning process.

    Advice to Management

    Be more inclusive of staff input at all level and clearer with staff on how the strategic planning process is developed and implemented.


  9. Helpful (16)

    "Very disappointing experience"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Associate in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Associate in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at Human Rights Watch full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Be a part of human rights mission, interesting people to meet, convenient location.

    Cons

    As many associates, I started as an intern and after a couple of months got hired full-time associate.
    As an Intern: from the first day no one would acknowledge you, even though I was super outgoing and friendly because I wanted to work as an associate at HRW. Sometimes they will forget you even exist - however, it can depend on the department you are working at, some were fun to work at. Most of the time you will sit at the computer on the conner and sometimes days without human interaction. The hardest part for me was to ask for clarifications as I often got a reaction like I was stupid. Folks at my department didn't appreciate positive atmosphere and communication, interaction with other departments.
    As an Associate: No appreciation for your hard work, No interest in your development - basically you just devote yourself for 2 yrs and then they will discard you. A lot of difficult people to deal with (because of their title) who will not acknowledge you nor say Hi or Good Morning. HR is a joke, don't trust them as they represent company interests and not yours. Some associates were forced to have an exit interview. During one of the HR events, associates were told: "If you feel stressed about work, lack of appreciation and motivation, then figure out how to deal with it or just leave". Relations between associates and higher title folks are based on fear, at least in my department.
    Overall, I was hoping for better experience because this is Human Rights Org - shouldn't we be more respectful, courteous to each other? How can we fight for Human Rights when people at work here at HRW don't feel/treated like human beings?

    Advice to Management

    How can we fight for Human Rights when after work at HRW you feel worthless and underappreciated. If We Feel Small at work - can we make a Big change in the world?


  10. "Intern in Human Rights Watch"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Intern in Glendale, CA
    Former Employee - Intern in Glendale, CA

    I worked at Human Rights Watch (Less than a year)

    Pros

    it certainly was a friendly work environment

    Cons

    One could work hours but still not see a significant change in human right related issues

    Advice to Management

    keep up the good work


  11. Helpful (6)

    "Limited Opportunities for Associates"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Human Rights Watch full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - Really great, inspiring work
    - Most researchers are passionate and dedicated to the work they do
    - Good way to understand how a large and international NGO functions
    - Good exposure to different human rights issues across the world
    - Good development opportunities for researchers and development staff

    Cons

    - Associate positions are very basic. They are secretarial positions rather than being substantive or research based.
    - There are almost no opportunities for professional development for regional/thematic associates. It generally depends on the good nature of your director, which causes inconsistencies across divisions
    - Even if an associate pushes for professional development, they are often discouraged to do it because they usually logistically support a large team. Them pursuing professional development is seen as them "not being a team player," and therefore, failing at their administrative duties (photocopying, booking flights and hotels, filing expenses, etc.)
    - The internal culture encourages a 2yr turnaround for associates, mostly because managers are aware there are no opportunities, and associates grow impatient and frustrated. Very few stay past the 2 yr mark.
    - There a strong culture of impunity. Staff members that have complaints filed against them are rarely held accountable for their actions
    - Some associates are asked to do things that fall outside their work duties (like, mail a manager's divorce papers, pick up laundry, accompany a manager's child on a tour, etc.)
    - Some discouraging remarks are often heard (in the realm of racism, sexism, misogyny, ableism, etc.) and are often laughed off as "just a joke"
    - Most of the senior management hold their position because of seniority rather than management competency and lack proper training.

    Advice to Management

    - Create professional development opportunities for associates, and implement them across the board. Do not leave them at the discretion of each manager/division, because that creates a lot of internal frustration at unequal opportunities
    - Encourage associates to do research, write, get published, and attend interesting meetings.
    - Rename associate positions and make it clearer that they are administrative ones. Or establish a difference between an admin role, and a research role. No need to consistently hire top graduates from top colleges (ivy leagues or otherwise), to file paperwork for 2 years. The way positions are currently set up doesn't make much sense.
    - Establish a better network of communication between support staff and managers, making sure that support staff concerns are actually heard and not brushed away.
    - Implement internal values more (such as, no sexist / racist /etc jokes), and allow support staff to come forward with complaints.


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