Refinery29 Reviews | Glassdoor

Refinery29 Reviews

Updated May 19, 2018
123 reviews

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2.8
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Philippe von Borries
71 Ratings

123 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Young, fun, and exciting company culture (in 7 reviews)

  • Great themed monthly birthday celebrations, snack-filled kitchens, frequent happy hours (in 7 reviews)

Cons
  • I would also argue that the people who have complained about work/life balance do not understand what a high-growth digital environment is really like (in 23 reviews)

  • No work/life balance and no appreciation provided for hard work put in (in 9 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Intern"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Really enjoyed my time interning at R29! A great group of people!

    Cons

    It is what you make of it!


  2. "Eh"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Refinery29 full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Most of the people are okay

    Cons

    For a company that promotes equal pay, there is a discrepancy between how people are paid. Basically making very low money unless you’re super high up or in sales

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Anonymous"

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

    I have been working at Refinery29 full-time

    Pros

    laid back office atmosphere.

    Cons

    There is no direction to this place- not somewhere you grow. Internal promotions are a one in a million chance. It's very easy to get taken advantage of in terms of the work you do, the title you have, and the amount of money you are compensated.

    Advice to Management

    Value your employees regardless of if they are freelance or staffed. Freelanced full time employees are treated like 2nd class citizens. Take a look at the people in higher level positions- most are unprofessional.


  4. "Innovative Company, Creative Team"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY

    I have been working at Refinery29 full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    An incredibly creative atmosphere with people who will help you create your best work on a daily basis.

    Cons

    You'll encounter the challenges most media companies are facing these days.


  5. Helpful (4)

    "In Transition"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Refinery29 full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Bagels, Free Product often gifted by branded sponsors, Community that embraces and cultivated creativity, dress code = expressive, happy hours

    Cons

    Refinery29 is in a transitional phase. The company is not a start-up anymore, yet it doesn’t have full organizational structure of a public corporation. The latter is not necessarily a bad quality, as I’ve worked in highly corporate/bureaucratic environments before that don’t value lower level employees and stifle creativity by nature. The leaders at Refinery29 have the best intentions at heart, but they’re up against many hurdles with the digital publishing and platform distribution industries being in a constant state of flux, causing mayhem when platforms change their algorithm and revenue gets low. Refinery29 is not alone in that struggle- it’s an industry issue. Because we’re in process of diversifying our revenue model, there is more pressure on the existing employees who are often overworked or find themselves with limited resources to perform necessary tasks. That can be frustrating. But Refinery29 is what you make of it. You need a go-getter mentality to thrive in this company, and the ability to understand bigger company priorities outside your individual department. Siloed work is a challenge Refinery29 needs to overcome, with many only thinking within the parameters and goals of their department. Because the founders do preach a message of inclusivity, they’re also vulnerable to mass criticism internally- every intern who has an “award winning” creative pitch or wants to be on-air talent. Many of these passion projects are developed to fruition- just look at Unbothered- a new platform that was creative as a space to celebrate women of color and create a diverse community, founded by entry level women of color internally. The resources it took to make this happen took away from other projects, but the company leaders saw this as a priority and made it happen. The problem is that every employee wants their own Unbothered, or to be waltzing on the SAG awards red carpet. Hiring a company of millennials, many of whom this is their first job and have no comparison, will breed entitlement and negativity when the company experiences growing pains, as you can see from some of the negative reviews. Take this criticism with a grain of salt but do acknowledge where change is needed. There is potential for Refinery29 to evolve into a global lifestyle leader, but management needs to be ruthless and balance the ethos and integrity of our brand with monetization and revenue.

    Advice to Management

    Become a more active presence in the day-to-day while we move through growing pains. It’s important for hardworking, valuable employees to have clear direction and leadership, creating and communicating the grand vision for success, and making sure the company works collaboratively. Crack down on broad entitlement and expectations, but acknowledge and compensate valuable, loyal employees. Take time to celebrate the wins.


  6. Helpful (3)

    "Career-defining, culturally important creative tour-de-force"

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

    I worked at Refinery29 full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    For transparency, I worked in the (then-named Brand Experiences) Branded Content/partnerships team.

    - Incredible briefs crossed our desk every day that would be the envy of any creative agency or publisher
    - a large sales force to aggressively pursue said briefs and close deals that helped bring everyones dreams to life
    - INCREDIBLE creative talent : the photography and art team in particular are second to none. Constantly imaginative, convention-bending, culturally-dialed-in visuals and storytelling that was inspiring to be around
    -work that will make you famous: 29rooms, other award-winning initiatives e.g the stock photo stuff for Getty images, is something that you will be able to talk about for the rest of your career.
    -Refinery29 is not b*tchy. I have never had a less dramatic or complicated social experience at work. Being surrounded by so many ambitious, talented, creative and intelligent women meant there was always an air of 'lets get this sh*t done'. Put your pre-conceived notions away!
    - throughout the org, there are some notably great leaders who are champions for positive change and creative solutions to big challenges both in the company and culture at large. Piera in particular is a consistent champion for representation, inclusivity and the power of imagination and creativity to effect change. Alison Meyer on the Brand solutions team is one of the best managers i have ever had in my entire career.

    Cons

    -experiences can vary wildly depending on the team/dept you are in. the culture is a little inconsistent between teams, but that is understandable.
    -process, siloed depts and a lot of different stakeholders can make new initiatives or thinking a little challenging

    Advice to Management

    Invest in and grow your talent, they are the best on the market. Not just the ones with great IG follower counts, but the ones who dig in and do the work to get every story live, every social post just right, and every deal closed.


  7. Helpful (6)

    "Do not work here"

    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
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Refinery29 full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Refinery29 has created some incredible initiatives like Take Back the Beach and the 67% Project. They commissioned awesome photos for Take Back the Beach and published plenty of moving personal essays. There are talented writers and video producers who come up with engaging original ideas. The social media editors are vey talented and wear many hats, and the IT staff is quite friendly.

    Cons

    Refinery29 had ambitious and praiseworthy missions, but its leadership has no idea how to execute them properly. Over two years, I saw positions and departments eliminated, only to be re-instituted a year later. Executives at higher levels appear to come and go at alarming rates.

    I was laid off in the massive cuts last December, and at that point, morale was abysmal. It’s hard to be positive when there are constant layoffs — the December round was preceded by smaller rounds of layoffs — and no one’s job is secure, at least not at the lower levels. There is no reward for company loyalty, and those who have been at the company for years are just as likely to be laid off without warning, at any given time.

    And despite earning plenty of funding and hosting elaborate sponsored events like 29 Rooms, Refinery29 was penny-pinching in every way, shape, and form. They tout having free bagels on Fridays, but good luck actually nabbing one. Same with things like free pizza -- there are company-wide emails about things like this as a reward for hard work, but there is never enough food ordered, and actually getting some is like winning the Hunger Games. Even basic things like coffee were steadily reduced, with executives saying that cold brew was costing as much as a lower-level employee’s salary. OK -- but then why are so many low-level employees getting laid off?

    The most depressing part of Refinery29, though, is that it does not practice what it preaches. Refinery29 has an empowering message of inclusion and equality, but that doesn’t seem to trickle down to employees. There are helpful articles about asking for raises and knowing your worth on the site, but employees were advised repeatedly not to ask for raises.

    In terms of editorial coverage, they tiptoe around writing anything even remotely critical of many brands. What topics are covered and not covered appear to be strategic decisions driven by money.

    Working here is not worth the long hours, stress, and constant fear of layoffs. Don’t be fooled by things like 29 Rooms!

    Advice to Management

    Stop using ridiculous buzzwords that make no sense at meetings. And actually know what's going on with your company beforehand -- there was one meeting where the site's tech coverage was praised, just days after a tech editor had been laid off. Also, retire the Woke Bae sweatshirt. Who labels themselves woke and wears that shirt??

  8. Helpful (12)

    "What is the opposite of leadership?"

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

    I have been working at Refinery29 full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The mission. If you miss junior high, this is the place for you. If you have low self esteem, you’ll thrive here.

    Cons

    The Insta-Founders’ lack of experience is on full display every day as they bungle promotions, company meetings, day to day interactions with the staff, and strategic decisions. The other members of the c-suite on are equally incompetent and know only how to manage up or push blame downwards. The new COO seems smart but she’ll probably leave as everyone who knows what they’re doing does after looking under the hood at R29. It is a culture of fear and pink narcissism. My friends who have left (voluntarily) tell me they feel like they’ve been freed from a psychological prison that you can’t understand when you’re in it because they execs run around going “it’s digital media! It’s digital media!” as an excuse for their inability to behave in a respectable way and make you feel like YOU’RE the problem. If the mission is to support women to claim their power, why is the culture unsupportive, dysfunctional, and predatory? The executive team is so impressed with themselves they don’t even try to change their behaviors. They don’t realize how little respect we all have for them, and even if they did, they’d just write a woe-is-me Instagram post about it to increase their followers.

    Advice to Management

    It’s time for you to go. If you really care about the brand you built, you’ll let adults come and take it over.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Good place to work."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Copy Editor in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Copy Editor in New York, NY

    I worked at Refinery29 full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Decent people and decent hours.

    Cons

    It is difficult to move up the ladder.


  10. "Working here has been the best opportunity to do truly creative, fulfilling work in my career so far."

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

    I have been working at Refinery29 full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    I am able to be my true creative self. I have had the freedom to experiment and push the boundaries of the brand and have had the backing of the company to help me push my vision forward.

    Cons

    It is difficult to move outside of the role you were hired for even after 2-3 years of working the same job.

    Advice to Management

    Give more senior people more incentive to stick around. The work will be better than if it is all green people.


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