The New And Improved Glassdoor – A Community For Workplace Conversations with Christian Sutherland-Wong
Tired of useless work conversations? Well, in today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup talks to Christian Sutherland-Wong, the CEO of Glassdoor, about how to raise the quality of work talk. The focus of our conversation is Glassdoor’s innovative community features, which have been designed to promote enriching workplace conversations. This feature offers a blend of private and public forums where current employees and potential job candidates can engage in diverse & multithreaded discussions. Additionally, users have the comfort of making their contributions anonymously if they prefer.
The interview also delves into how this platform can be a dynamic tool in the realm of employer branding. It provides a platform for companies to tell their story, respond to reviews, and engage in meaningful dialogues with their employees and potential hires. The potential impact of these capabilities on strategies pertaining to diversity, equity, inclusion, and talent acquisition are also highlighted. Furthermore, Christian Sutherland-Wong provides some insight into his personal background and experiences in the field, establishing a more personalized connection with listeners.
Listening Time: 26 minutes
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I am currently CEO of Glassdoor, one of the world’s largest job and recruiting sites. We are focused on increasing workplace transparency to help people everywhere find a job and company they love, while also helping employers attract and hire quality talent.
Prior to becoming CEO, I served as president and chief operating officer of Glassdoor, where I was responsible for monetization, driving revenue and overseeing Glassdoor’s global business strategy and operations.Follow
The New And Improved Glassdoor – A Community For Workplace Conversations Christian Sutherland-Wong
William Tincup: [00:00:00] This is William Tinkup and you’re listening to the Recruiting Daily Podcast. Today we have Christian on from Glassdoor and we’re talking, our title today is the new and improved Glassdoor Community for Workplace Conversations. So everybody’s familiar with Glassdoor of course, uh, but this is actually some new, uh, new functionality and some new things from Glassdoor.
So Can’t wait to talk to Christian about it. Uh, Christian, would you do us a favor and, uh, introduce yourself [00:01:00] and, uh, tell us a little bit about what’s going on at Glassdoor?
Christian Sutherland-Wong: Cool. Yeah. Happy to. Thanks for having me, William. Um, I’m Christian Sublin Wong and I’m CEO of Glassdoor. I’ve been at Glassdoor for eight years now.
I joined back in 2015, um, and took over as CEO in 2020. Um, I, Quick bit about me is prior to Glassdoor, I, um, spent five years at LinkedIn, um, as a director of product and overseeing LinkedIn’s premium subscriptions business. Um, and, uh, originally from Australia, I came out to the States in 2007, um, and thought it’d be a couple of years and, you know.
I think life got away from me and here I am now, I’m a family and two kids. And so, um, yeah, certainly, um, set my roots in, uh, in the U S, um, and, uh, and, uh, yeah, a big chunk of my time in the U S has been working with this amazing company, Glassdoor. And, um, yeah, excited to tell you what we’ve been up to.
William Tincup: And, and there’s an amazing Australian, uh, community in, in Northern California, in particular, it’s kind of crazy when you talk [00:02:00] to a lot of entrepreneurs, it’s like, yeah, I’m from Australia.
I’m like, where it’s either Brisbane or Sydney or, you know, wherever it’s wherever it is, it’s, uh, uh, but it’s fascinating because it’s like, there’s a great tech community in, obviously in Australia, but also a lot of folks that come over. I don’t find them coming over and like ending up in New York or Chicago or something like that, like something about California.
I mean, I know it’s closer, uh, proximity, but there’s just, uh, this is a really wonderful tech community as well. So.
Christian Sutherland-Wong: Yeah, I spent a bit of time in the East Coast and I definitely feel more at home on the West Coast. So, I can, yeah, for some reason why there’s probably more Aussies
William Tincup: out here. It’s crazy. Where, what city were you from?
What region were you from? I was from Sydney.
Christian Sutherland-Wong: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Near, yeah, right on the East Coast of, um, very close to Bondi Beach. Oh my gosh. Uh, yeah, I miss, that’s the part of Australia that I really miss is the The beach lifestyle and, um, you know, San Francisco is a city by the bay. It’s, [00:03:00] it’s, it’s very different.
There’s not, no, no,
William Tincup: no, no, no, no. There’s a restaurant that’s right there. Icebergs that has a wonderful restaurant, wonderful restaurant. But my wife and I, the last time we were there, we were fascinated because the kids were doing a surf surf camp. So we sat on the beach and we just watched them and you know, they’re all small.
I mean, these are like little tykes and they’re all running out into the waves and they’re all doing their bit. And I’m like, wow, like it’s, it’s so different. Uh, yeah. Well, tell us, tell us about, um, tell us about this, uh, community for workplace conversations. Tell us a little bit about that. What are you doing?
Christian Sutherland-Wong: Yeah, so I’m sure your listeners will know about Glassdoor and, you know, over the years how we’ve established ourselves as the leading platform for workplace ratings and reviews and salary sharing and really the go to resource that people use when they’re thinking, Hey, I’ve got a job change that I’m considering, um, and, you know, I want to do some research on where I, where I could go.
Um, but we [00:04:00] recognize that 15 years on. The world has changed. The world of work has changed a lot since when Gloucester was first founded back in 2008. Um, I think one thing we all see in a post COVID world is how much the workplace has changed with people working from all different locations. Um, whether that’s fully remote or even if your company wants you to come in the office, typically it’s more of a hybrid situation.
Um, so what we see on our platform on Glassdoors platform is people talking about this, um, this change, but also talking about some of the impacts of this change it’s having on people around people feeling disconnected from the workplace or feeling lonely work. And so we saw a really opportunity there to kind of be able to try and create more community.
And we also at the same time have seen. Uh, this newer generation of workers wanting to bring all aspects of themselves to work and be able to talk about all as all forms of topics at work, whether that be, you know, what we traditionally think is work topics, but also increasingly social topics and everything going on [00:05:00] in our broader lives, bringing as a workplace conversation.
And so with that, we saw an opportunity that we could be expanding glass. Store to be more in the space of workplace conversations and allowing people to have real talk with their colleagues that could be private conversations with just with your colleagues of things that’s going on in at your company or even across across companies and people in your industry or people have similar interests to you.
And so that’s we’ve recently rolled that out on our platform over the last couple of months. And I’m really excited to be able to allow people to now be using Glassdoor in this way.
William Tincup: You know, we, we, oftentimes we talk about the, the positive side, especially since COVID, but even before we talk about the, the positive parts of being remote and even hybrid, but we rarely do we talk about, okay, you know, when everyone was in the same box, yeah, there were, there were pros and cons to that too.
Fair. Got it. But it, but one of them wasn’t that we didn’t get to see each other talk or, you know, run into [00:06:00] each other in the hallways, et cetera. So I can kind of, I can really see this. How with the early customers, what did they, what kind of feedback are you getting?
Christian Sutherland-Wong: Yeah, I think people see the opportunity and I also think that, you know, you’ve also seen the pendulum swing back where I think employers are also worrying that people aren’t having those hallway conversations or those water cooler conversations.
They’re not strengthening relationships. They’re not sparking creativity and new ideas. And so I think everyone’s starting to see that this is something that needs to get addressed. Um, and. The product we’ve rolled out, the initial feedback has been really strong. We see, um, people have come to Glassdoor for different things.
They’re probably coming for the more traditional use cases of Glassdoor to look at a company’s ratings or reviews or salaries, and then they’re discovering community. And many of those people who discover a community are finding it very engaging. And we’re seeing that those, the users who, um, people who engage with the community early on are the ones who then end up engaging with Glassdoor.
Far more frequently than they would have [00:07:00] historically when we just thought of as a ratings reviews platform. Um, so that’s really, really encouraging and, but it’s still very early days, um, but I still think this is, you know, any really important problem for, for Glassdoor to be part of helping solve in the workplace.
William Tincup: so for the audience, um, or employees, let’s say, uh, we’ll just pick a large company so that we won’t even say it can name, but basically a large company employees of that company can use this. You can use this platform to privately message other is, is that is it privately or is it. Is, is some of it more of a publicly facing kind of communications?
Christian Sutherland-Wong: Yeah, it’s both. Um, and so a couple of things to kind of describe that’s important to understand the community. So the level of identity you share is also in your control. Oh, cool. In many cases, people are choosing anonymous, which is very similar to the way our reviews used to work. And that provides a lot of safety to people to be able to speak their mind.
Um, and it also has this really great effect of [00:08:00] democratizing voice where, you know, if you come in with your title of who you are, often that, you know, depending on where you sit in the ladder, it kind of colors how that comment is received. And so like. Taking that out of the equation actually is really, really powerful, we’ve noticed.
And so people can choose. So I’d say about 70 ish percent, maybe 80 percent of the conversation is anonymous on our platform. But if a person wants to say, hey, you know, who they are, could be their name or could be their job title, they can choose to share that as well. And so we give people the options on how they share.
Um, and the second thing is, there’s different what we call bowls. For where you want to have discussions. So there’s a private bowl, which is just your company employees, and you have to be verified through using your, you know, your work email address that you actually work for this company. And so you know that everybody in this bowl is just employees of your company.
And again, I think it allows you to speak more candidly about what’s going on. And, you know, it governs the types of topics that pop up. And then there are more public bowls, which is anybody could come join the [00:09:00] conversation. And that could be for a particular industry or an interest area like women in tech or working moms.
Or, or things of that nature, or it’s, or it’s tech or it’s finance or it’s legal and, um, and people, you know, talk about topics of conversation and, and it ranges the gamut from things that are very specific about work life to things that have been a pretty casual as well, which is mimicking, you know, exactly how we often operate in, in an office environment, or even if we’re having a, a networking event with people outside of our company is that, you know, a whole range of topics come up and, um, that’s how the, that, that’s kind of what we’re designing the platform
William Tincup: for.
Okay. Well, I could see this being extremely valued for both employees on the, on the private bowl side. So that that’s becomes a kind of a place for them to communicate again, anonymously, like Slack’s a great, you know, it’s a tool as well, right? You can’t be anonymous unless you create another profile, which is a different issue.
Uh, but, but like it’s you. Communicating to whomever you’re communicating to, [00:10:00] um, so the, the anonymous part that gets taken out so I could see the private for the corporate side. I could see a lot of value there for people to be able to say whatever’s on their mind. Good, bad, all that stuff. Um, and on the for a candidate.
To be able to interact with the company and kind of see some of the community discussions that go on in that bowl, whether or not it’s ERG or SIGs or, you know, things, things that are like, what’s, what’s, what’s work like, like, I’ve always been fascinated with. Uh, the, that part of employer branding of, you know, what’s behind the veil.
Like I apply to a job at, you know, big co whatever. And it’s like the job description only gets me so much. The career site gets me some glassware informs me here, but what’s the job like? Like, what’s the, you know, what’s the team like, what’s the, you know, what is it really like? I mean, I know what’s stated, but what’s it like?
And, uh, it seems like to me, like candidates can get a lot of value out of having conversations, whether or not they’re [00:11:00] anonymous. I guess both the candidate can be anonymous, so can the, uh, the person that works at the company, but they could also not be anonymous.
Christian Sutherland-Wong: That’s right. That’s right. Yeah, I 100 percent agree that that’s, that’s such a powerful use case.
And I think of typically the candidates would have come to look at Glassdoor reviews. And I think that’s a great source of information. But if you have a specific question or you want to kind of engage in a conversation, not just read a, a single review, this, this community concept is going to be more powerful.
And, you know, coming back to the other side of it, just for the private bowl for employees, our own experience, even a glass door is where I’ve seen it as a, a transformational tool for how we communicate within the company. Um, and how employees connect, connect with one another, our, our own glass door, private company bowl.
I’m confident every one of our employees is in it and using it frequently, um, typically anonymous and they’re bringing up conversations, which could be, you know, fun [00:12:00] stuff, but also bring up stuff that they’re finding challenging or challenging to hear. And, and as a leader, it can be at times, you know, tough to kind of see when people are pushing back on something that, you know, we’ve, we’ve rolled out or, you know, a comment we’ve said.
But on the flip side, it’s such a gift as well on it. Increasingly, when I think of where do I go to get my finger on the pulse of what’s going on at my company? Uh, where do I go to guide my communications to the company and what I should be hitting when I have my next company town hall? It’s our company bowl.
And it is this incredible resource that I just am so excited for leaders all around the world at other companies to. be able to have one day, um, as these company models start getting activated, um, in companies everywhere.
William Tincup: So give us, uh, as we’re talking on an audio podcast, give us kind of a visual idea of what the community looks like.
Can, can a candidate We’ll, we’ll do the public one first and then we can do the private one. I’m sure they behave much [00:13:00] the same way, but, uh, can a candidate ask a question? Uh, like, like what’s, what’s it, does it, is it, does it look like more like Reddit and there’s just all kinds of different topics and kind of like that type of feel or is it more, um, just kind of, you know, like stream of conscious, not stream of conscious, but more of a, uh, based on time, like what, what’s it, how’s it organized?
Christian Sutherland-Wong: Yeah, it is, it is. So I’d encourage people to download the app or, um, or even just go to glassdoor. com on the website and you’ll see on the homepage experience about the app and website. You’ll see the feed of, of comments and posts from people in the community. And so, you know, Reddit is a, is a reasonable comparison.
It’s, um, people post what’s on their mind. It’s often posted as a question because they’re looking for support in answers. It can be related to, um, things going on in a job search process. It can be related to things going on in, you know, their, their work life experience. Um, it’s, it’s [00:14:00] really the whole gamut of, of different types of topics and then people comment.
And so it’s asynchronous. Um, in, in the communication medium on, you know, people comment asynchronously and it goes back and forth. You see these really rich, um, and wonderful conversations. We have community guidelines around keeping it as a positive and constructive space. Um, we allow, we have moderation, um, that we do ourselves and we allow the community to moderate as well.
But I think people see that by and large, it’s a very, very positive and constructive experience. Um, and so as a candidate, yeah, you could go on and you could search for, um, for content around a particular company, um, or you could just post your question and you can also tag the company in your post and that will typically push it out to the employees of that company who will then see that there was a comment was asked about their question was asked about their company and more often than not you’ll see employees from that company coming in to offer advice and I think one of the cool things is that most people enjoy their job.
Otherwise they wouldn’t be there. And they, you know, they feel proud of [00:15:00] their company. And so when they see an opportunity for a candidate who’s looking, investigating their company, that they, they would love to be helpful. Um, and so that’s, you know, that’s a, it’s a great use case among many of how people are using the community.
Um, as a lot of people using the community, not even in the job search, just to, you know, just to talk and connect with other people, but you know, the one you described with the candidate is certainly a way people have found value in the community. Well, I
William Tincup: mentioned ERGs earlier and it’s, I’ve been talking about ERGs, podcasting about them for, for years, but finally I got an ERG.
On a podcast from Sineos Health, a friend of mine runs a Global Head of Talent Acquisition there. And he said, would you, would you do ever consider doing a podcast on this? I think it was people with disabilities, uh, uh, ERG and I’m like, yeah, I’ve always wanted to talk to ERG and, uh, cause I always think that information’s trapped inside of an ERG.
You know, like the, the, there’s people like minded people get together and kind of do some really cool stuff. And it’s like, how do you communicate? To the rest of the [00:16:00] company, all the cool stuff that you’re working on, that you’re doing, advancing, et cetera. So it was a great podcast. So first of all, I had four different people from all over, you know, two leadership advocates, two people running it, you know, and it was just a fantastic kind of exchange of like, what all they’re doing, where they started, where they’re going, like all that stuff.
Great. Siloed off and kind of trapped in the, in the, in, and again, in that ERG. And so I could see a lot of that stuff being put, brought forward. Uh, and, and, and to made more public, I’ve been, so again, so in the private bowl, they can be communicating all the kind of, here’s where we’re at, you know, all that kind of the, the, you know, stuff like that, but also to the, to, to the broader, can I say it’s a prospect or candidate universe is really kind of just talking about all the cool work they’re doing.
Cause they’re programmatically, I think that a lot of ERGs. Are doing really cool things and it’s like, how do you get that, how do you, how do you [00:17:00] get that information out? And I can see candidates wanting to know, especially Gen Z, but, but candidates in general would like to know that about the company.
It’s just a, like, this is a great mechanism for them to be able to market. Uh, all of the cool stuff that they’re doing in their company.
Christian Sutherland-Wong: Absolutely. You know, I think we have a couple of spaces which we support the, um, messaging for ARGs and more broadly how we help companies think about diversity, equity and inclusion within their companies.
We’ve, we’re from the beginning, you know, if I rewind back even to 2008 when Glassdoor launched. From the beginning, one of the most talked about topics in reviews was topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, um, inside of their, their workplace. And we’ve obviously seen even more of an explosion of that in recent times has really become on the forefront of our minds.
And so things we’ve done even to enhance our core product, uh, is within the company pages. We now, um, [00:18:00] allow companies to talk about what they’re doing when it comes to DEI. And in particular, you know, a lot of companies find talking about their employee resource groups and their investments in various communities within their company, um, and, and bringing that to, to, to light for other candidates who might be considering them.
We also have, um, Uh, ratings now by, um, for diversity, equity, inclusion. And we also allow, um, within the U. S. populations for people to, um, optionally, if they choose, to tell us their, um, to tell us, you know, relevant background information so that we can also provide ratings and tell people what the ratings by, you know, different from backgrounds of different people.
Um, and so, yeah, we, we see a big opportunity here, here as well. I think the other thing you, you know, you mentioned of like this siloing of ERGs is also that. Even an ERG within a company, even if the company’s doing a great job of promoting their ERG to candidates, I still think there’s a great opportunity for ERGs across different companies to be getting together, and that’s probably, I’d say, where the community [00:19:00] really comes into light, is that we have, um, so many, um Uh, so many interest and affiliate groups who’ve created bowls like Blacks in Tech.
And so that, you know, creates this opportunity for us, not just, you know, your, your company Black EIG to be, you know, for people to be getting together, but now people across different communities can be, can be, um, connecting together and supporting one another, sharing information, which is, you know, I think the whole goal of the EIG and the concept in the first place.
And I think it’s even that much more powerful when it’s not confined to just, you know, the company’s little walls. Yeah,
William Tincup: it’s almost the, you can see the pitching to the choir deal. So you gather, again, whether or not it’s a SIG, a special interest group, or an ERG, you can see kind of a cluster of people that already have some common interests.
It’s like outside of that common interest, it’s usually the people that aren’t in the ERG that need the that need the inspiration or the education, et cetera. So I can see this being used by a lot of different [00:20:00] communities, you know, early stage talent, college talent, you know, they’re always trying to get the inside scoop on where, you know, where they should apply, et cetera.
And they’re not afraid to type questions, uh, into, into something like this. So I can see them using this wildly, uh, because it’s just a great way to interact with a company. Uh, again, trying to kind of figure out what’s not be in the. What’s not in the job description, what’s not in the careers page, like, I think people are still trying to figure out our, you know, what is, what is this company really about?
What are their values? What do they stand for? Etc. Um, I know I know, I know y’all have a wonderful back end in terms of employer brand and helping companies as well. We’ve talked about really a lot of the community part and especially on the candidate and employee side, but you also, you help employers, uh, have been, and always have kind of had, you know, to help them kind of understand their employer [00:21:00] brand.
Uh, y’all, y’all, uh, Years ago, you had wonderful employer brand conferences, et cetera. Um, and so the question I’m really kind of thinking about is if I’m in recruiting at, at, at BigCo and all of a sudden I see a candidate asking questions. And they’re just really, really, really cool questions, and maybe their profile is turned on.
And so, I look them up, and I’m like, I really want to talk to this. Is there a way to convert that candidate into a conversation, um, in, within the system, or do you need to, or do they need to go outside of that to, uh, to have a conversation with the candidate?
Christian Sutherland-Wong: Yeah, I mean, technically speaking, the, the mechanism for direct messaging is still on the roadmap, but, um, is, is something which we absolutely are going to roll out in the not too distant future.
William Tincup: can see the use case,
Christian Sutherland-Wong: right? Absolutely. Exactly. And that’s it, is that, you know, as we imagine this community building, we think this is going to be an amazing, um, talent community for, um, for, for [00:22:00] employers to search for prospects. And just as a. A platform and place that you want to manage your employer brand and, um, today, historically, when people have thought about managing their employer brand in Glassdoor, the centerpiece of that was your company’s page, and I think that company page will continue to be probably one of the most important parts of your company’s Glassdoor presence, um, but that said, A lot of the conversation is going to be happening in all these community pages now, and I think with that comes this incredible opportunity for companies to think about how they want to proactively get involved in the conversation so they can promote their company’s brand.
We’re excited for companies to start doing that, and we’ve seen companies start to experiment with that as well, but it’s still very early days. Yeah, it’s, it’s,
William Tincup: again, if you don’t tell your story, someone else will. And I think that’s what I love about Glassdoor is it allows the company, you know, I, if I, if I remember correctly, and please correct me if I’ve had this wrong, but in my mind, I don’t think a company can strike a [00:23:00] review, but I think they can respond to it and kind of give their, that, you know, thanks for providing that feedback.
We’ll take a look at that. Here’s what’s going on. Like they can, they can be a part of telling the story of, okay, first of all, thanks for the feedback. B, here’s what we’re doing kind of to address that, etc. So I, I’ve always liked that part. of, of Glassdoor. Again, for the employer, it isn’t just one sided.
It isn’t just, you know, former pros, uh, prospects or candidates or customers or employees or et cetera, because there for a while people would, I think, mislabel Glassdoor very early on. It’s like, oh, this is just disgruntled, you know, employees. It’s like, no, I think. I think these are actually actual employees, uh, by and large.
I mean, yeah, you might have some folks that are former, but it’s, I like the fact that The employers get to be a participant in that story, rather than just a recipient of the, of, of feedback. Whether or not it’s anonymous or tethered to a profile, [00:24:00] they get to actually be a part of that story.
Christian Sutherland-Wong: That’s right, and you described it exactly right in terms of the, the role the employer can play, of its, It’s not about, there is no ability for employers to strike down a review regardless of their relationship with Glassdoor, um, but, uh, they, uh, they can respond to reviews.
And we want them to be part of the conversation that we want them to be engaging with candidates and their former employees and their current employees on our platform. And now that we’re going into community, this, the same thing holds. And I think it’ll be a similar evolution in that I think Glassdoor came out, people were a little worried around like, well, how am I going to manage this now?
But then we saw the, the, the best companies. figured out that this is a great opportunity to now connect and to shape your employer brand and to be held accountable and to, um, and to see that when you start to do better and your, you know, your rating goes up, that, you know, that is a really good thing.
And so, um, it’s become very, very positive and constructive. And I think it’s going to be the same evolution with our community products in that, [00:25:00] um, it will take some time for employers to get used to it. But I think that’s similar to the way. Myself and the other leaders at Glassdoor have found our company bowl to be so valuable for us.
I’m confident that, um, leaders, uh, recruiters and people in the talent teams and more broadly the leadership of companies will have the same relationship with our community over time and see it as it’s going to be a great opportunity to engage with their existing employees and also future potential employees.
William Tincup: mic, walks off stage. Krishna, I absolutely love what y’all have built. You’ve been in cooking up some cool stuff and I’m so glad for us to talk. Thank you for carving out time for us.
Christian Sutherland-Wong: Thank you for having me. It was fun.
William Tincup: Absolutely. And thanks to everyone in the audience. Thanks for listening. Until next time.
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.