I worked at UN Women (More than a year)
Best place to work at. Management is extremely helpful
No down side. Perfect place to work in.
Good amount of responsibilities and interesting projects.
No pay, no future employment prospects in the organisation
- great colleagues
- small organization, so an individual can have more impact than in other organizations
- funding constraints
- limited career opportunities
I worked at UN Women full-time
- Mandate is critical.
- There are some amazing staff and teams working in the organization, against all odds, and pockets of excellence which should be supported internally and by partners.
- The worst management every encountered in the UN system.
- Bullying, enormous egos, and chaos.
- Internally competitive and people falsely take credit for the work of others.
- Shallow priorities amongst senior management with initiatives that provide flash and visibility of highest value.
- Culture totally misaligned with supposed values and mandate of the organization, i.e. empowering women, respect, human rights.
- Many excellent staff have left the organization w/o even securing another job first because the environment is so toxic.
- Demotivating at any point in your career.
There are of course exceptions to the above depending on where and with whom you work. However, the overall culture and higher levels of management are terrible and this will eventually impact everyone in the organization and their ability to do their work well and to also find personal growth and reward. I would advise those interested in the mandate to consider working for UN Women when leadership changes and there is opportunity to right the ship.
Advice to Management
- They don't (will never) take advice or listen, that is the problem.
- Executive Board and Donors, are you listening? How about holding UN Women management to account. Find ways to protect and amplify the wonderful staff that are staying the course, genuine projects that actually promote gender equality, and the pockets of excellence (and cut through the spin in identifying these).
I have been working at UN Women part-time (More than 3 years)
Excellent Russian-english and Editorial projects
Very knowledgeable staff
Fewer Russian-Eng opportunities with split up of Office in 2014-2015
Advice to Management
A shame that the office was divided and 23 countries it served were split between new Istanbul office and Almaty, Kazakhstan office.
People here are super nice and the experience was fun!
I can not remember any downside
As a recent grad, the office environment is excellent and everyone is dedicated to their jobs and were great mentors. Gained a lot of insights about the many stakeholders involved in international development. Additionally, the HR team had workshops to discuss professional development options.
Internships are unpaid and transitioning into UN culture can be overwhelming. Specifically, understanding how organizations and agencies are connected, and the many acronyms.
I have been working at UN Women full-time (More than 3 years)
Being able to work for this important mandate "Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women".
The big wage difference between the salaries of local and international staff members.
Advice to Management
Supporting salary improvement of GS staff.
I have been working at UN Women full-time
work within the international community
Lack of support from certain offices
I worked at UN Women full-time (More than a year)
Great mission and mandate: empowering women is crucial to development. Amazing junior level colleagues who are motivated and passionate toward making a difference. Great grass-roots level work.
Extremely cushy UN salary (junior/starting level makes about 70k net in NYC) plus very generous benefits (housing allowance (up to 1k a month), 30 days paid leave, maternity, paternity, health, child education allowance (up too 30k per year per kid), 30k relocation, paid tickets to fly home with the whole family every other year, etc, but only for the small portion of the workforce in international (P and D) staff positions.
Little expected results and weak management oversight or enforcement: great for chronic slackers and over-the-hill bureaucrats who just want to cash in while traveling around on the corporate dime and waiting for retirement. Really perfect if you are politically or personally connected with management and want to pursue a side gig of finish up that part-time PhD while on the UN payroll.
Solid work/life balance if you're a slacker. You can literally not show up to the office for weeks at a time and face no consequences aside from, maybe, a toothless tongue-lashing (again, assuming you are staff, not consultants or interns).
Terrible work environment: constant uncertainty, unclear/low expectations, lack of vision, bad attitudes, rampant sexism (toward men) and abuse (toward junior women) on the part of senior management. Extremely demotivating for passionate and motivated young people.
Epic fear of direct "conflict" leading to unending backstabbing and politicking to undermine other teams'/people's initiatives leading to constant institutional deadlock.
No link between performance and advancement or effort and outcome. No/awful institutional structures or systems to support team/individual goals and projects makes everything being incredibly difficult and frustrating to accomplish.
Entitled mid-level to senior staff with sour attitudes who produce little and contribute less, and mostly end up sitting silently through (endless) meetings while staring at the ceiling or occasionally asking a banal or redundant question over the teleconference so people will know that they were in attendance.
Very patronizing and unfocused leadership; scatterbrained and nonstrategic approach to work leads to a massive waste of money and time and a very stressful and disappointing work environment; huge focus on "visibility" (especially of personal visibility of in-county and senior management) leads to fragmented approaches and investment of institutional funds toward travel, pet projects, and personal aggrandizement.
Horrendous work/life balance if you are actually motivated and passionate because you have to carry a lot of dead-weight.
Advice to Management
Retire, resign, or listen to your staff (not just your one or two trusted yes-(wo)men who you brought with you when you joined the organization). UN Women has an inverse organizational pyramid with more senior staff than junior staff. New York alone has nearly 30 director or higher level posts (out of about 300 people in the office). That needs to change.
Enforce discipline. If offices/teams have targets, they need to meet them. If they don't, there has to be consequences. People can't constantly promise the world, deliver nothing, give vague excuses and face absolutely no consequences.
Promote on merit, hard work, and measurable not on vague promises and obvious brown-nosing. So, yeah, actually establish some sort of promotion mechanism so people aren't stuck in the same position for years and are forced to job hunt and network for their next position in the organization.
Stop hiring temporary consultants for everything and invest in institutional talent, memory, and skill by hiring more junior professionals and then training and empowering them (and not just using them to take meeting minutes at CSW).
Pick a few clear things/ideas/outcomes you want to accomplish and make sure everyone knows exactly what they are. Then focus on getting only those things done and treat other things as distractions.
Pay your interns. You can afford it and it's an institutional and personal disgrace (for an organization and senior management who speak ad nauseum about empowering women) that hundreds of talented, young women are asked to work unpaid in Manhattan, Copenhagen, Geneva, and elsewhere every year while senior managers fly around all the time on $18,000 business class tickets. And don't make jokes about it, either. Having your Executive Director say that interns will be "rewarded in the afterlife" is not funny. It's pathetic and insulting.
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