Does Glassdoor Aid And Abet Employers In Hiding Their Bad News?

Several people have reached out to me in the last couple of weeks in regards to Glassdoor which is an online “career community” with a database consisting of several million company reviews. The whole idea behind this “career community” is that job seekers can get the inside scoop on the best and worst aspects of working for a particular company, CEO ratings, salary reports, job interview reports and more. That’s handy if you are considering working for an organization and you want to know if it will be a good place to work or not. Employers can also get in on the act by posting jobs, getting their story out there, and having the ability to respond to negative or positive reviews.

Now that all sounds peachy. But the reason why people have reached out to me in the past couple of weeks is that the perception exists that Glassdoor might also be aiding and abetting employers in burying their bad news. All of this centers around a Mississauga based software company who has offices around the world. They apparently have been getting hammered via Glassdoor reviews by current and former employees for reasons including workplace harassment, bullying, and even accusations of extramarital affairs between executives and their subordinates. That sounds really bad, and even if I felt like telling you the name of the software company in question so that you can go look for yourself, there’s one slight problem. A lot of the negative reviews have been deleted. So unless you were closely following the reviews on Glassdoor, this company looks far more respectable than perhaps it is. Now the people who brought this to my attention were able to show me proof of reviews being deleted, which indicates that something is up.

So, does that mean that Glassdoor deletes reviews. Well, in this case I can’t answer that specifically. But I can play a game of connect the dots and let you draw some conclusions.

First of all, Glassdoor charges employers for their presence on the site. That’s called being an “engaged employer”. Thus it stands to reason that there is an economic motive for Glassdoor not to let things get too negative. After all in the age of the Internet, job seekers may use Glassdoor to make a decision as to if they should accept an offer or not. And if there are too many negative reviews, an employer will have problems attracting talent. Plus it will likely affect employee retention as well. Which means the employer will stop being an “engaged employer” and as a result stop paying Glassdoor.

Second, any disgruntled employee or job applicant can trash a company publicly. An HR department can spam Glassdoor, singing its own praises either by posting fake reviews themselves or “encouraging” employees to do it for them (which according to the people who brought this to my attention was apparently happening here at this software company). Anything that someone doesn’t like can get flagged for deletion. Which is something that could be at play in this case as anyone can flag a review. And worst of all, honest comments will get lost. Meanwhile, Glassdoor has no incentive to keep it all clean by making participants accountable. The obvious problem is that, when no one is accountable for praise or complaints, every comment on Glassdoor is suspect as anyone can create an account without anything but an e-mail address. In other words, Glassdoor is a free for all where to borrow a Rudy Giuliani phrase, “truth isn’t truth.”

Third, and most importantly, Glassdoor is nothing but a thinly veiled job board that collects data. As in review data for companies, and (much like reviews, unverified) salary data that the reviewers supply (for free I might add). On the other side of the fence are employers that pay to post jobs. So it stands to reason that job seekers are attracted to Glassdoor by the reviews and salary data and stay for the job postings. Assuming that they don’t add to the review or salary data that’s already there as well. That’s a great way to make money if you’re Glassdoor. But not a great way to promote honest discussion about an employer.

So, back to the central question. Is Glassdoor aiding and abetting employers in burying their bad news? Maybe they are. Maybe they aren’t. Right now, the answer to that is opaque at best. What I do know is that Glassdoor isn’t all that it appears to be based on the above. Thus if I were a job seeker, I would not trust it as a credible source of information when you are looking for your next job.

Finally, I have a message for Glassdoor. If you want to reach out to me and tell me your side of the story, along with why job seekers should take you seriously, feel free to do so. I’m more than willing to do that as I want to get both sides of this out there. So will you take me up on it Glassdoor?

UPDATE: A reader pointed me towards the review page of Glassdoor.

Glassdoor

The immediate thing that jumps out at me is the fact that unlike every other review for a company, there are no scores for the organization, no score in terms of if someone would recommend to a friend, and no score for the CEO. This despite the fact that there are reviews on the site for them. You have to wonder why that is.

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