Why EAs should normalize using Glassdoor

There are many EA organizations and they often work on pretty similar things. It can be hard for someone to get a real sense of the pros and cons of different organizations and jobs if they haven’t been in the EA movement for a long time, or if they are not highly connected to people who are ingrained in the movement.

Thankfully, the world outside of EA has a solution for this issue. Glassdoor is a widely used website that gives a lot of information about the pros and cons of different organizations through company reviews. Submissions can be anonymous, and many of the larger EA organizations already have profiles and some reviews.

In general, I think using review services is a good thing to do. It gives people a better sense of whether a workplace is good or bad, and brings some accountability to organizations. This seems equally important within the context of Effective Altruism; often EAs apply for a number of EA jobs and in many cases get multiple offers. When considering which organizations to work for (or even who to apply to in the first place), we ideally want people to be as knowledgeable as possible of the desirable and undesirable attributes of each of the different options. The impact of an EA working in an organization that is the right fit is potentially very high, yet finding this kind of information is difficult. It therefore seems that it would be very high value for people to submit reviews of EA organizations they have previously worked in.

Possible pros

  • Matching: Allows EAs to find better matches when considering workplaces, leading to less turnover and general frustration when applying for/​working at jobs.

  • Accountability: Creates a higher level of accountability for EA workplaces, who could be motivated by the knowledge that they likely will get reviews.

  • Hidden factors: In-depth reviews can provide a more detailed picture of an organization’s culture than can be obtained from a job ad (e.g. team cohesion, how decisions are made etc.)

  • Knowledge gaps: Balances out the knowledge gap between EAs who have been involved in the movement for a long time vs relative newcomers.

  • Gives employees another way to voice if something was negative or challenging about the organization.

Possible cons

  • Gaming the system: There is probably some risk of an organization seeing this post and strongly encouraging current employees to give them positive reviews to increase their ability to hire.

    • I think an ideal social norm would be only reviewing an organization after you are no longer working with them and thus can review the full experience. Similarly, I would be skeptical if this post got sent to some ex-employees but not others.

  • Incentivizing becoming a ‘charity for employees’: Ideally EA charities should be creating large amounts of impact and focusing on maximizing that, not employee satisfaction. Knowing that an organization will be reviewed on Glassdoor might push them toward maximizing employee happiness over impact (in situations where the two are not correlated).

    • I think the best way to alleviate this concern is for EA reviewers to try to take impact into account as well. A review like “This organization had great benefits but was not really self-critical” is highly informative and prevents the focus being purely on employee welfare.

  • Reviews of EA organizations could make the EA movement look bad or otherwise cause reputational damage.

    • Glassdoor is already in common use across industries, so I think this is unlikely. I posit that utilizing a system of reviews will identify and eliminate poor organizational behaviors earlier.

In conclusion: I think it would be highly impactful for EAs to leave thoughtful reviews on a public platform, with special consideration to impact-related factors.