The other day, I was wondering what sites like Glassdoor (skews North American), Comparably (skews US and heavily tech) and ChooseMyCompany (based in Paris, formerly Meilleures-Entreprises.com), that shine a light on the insides of a company, might be able to tell me as a prospective recruit. To what extent does one get a sneak peak into the internal shenanigans of the company to help make the right selection? Personally, at my stage in my career (54 years old), I would focus on three features (in order):
- the culture of the company
- the evaluation of the CEO
- success of the company (whether it’s trending up or not)
Younger recruits will surely have other preoccupations, including pay scale, interview experience, benefits, etc. For purposes of this article, I took a scan of an industry that I might want to work for (in this case, Beauty & Personal Care*). I then took the top 10 biggest companies as reported by Beauty Packaging (2017 sales in USD). I note that not all 10 companies are pure players in beauty/personal care.
It turns out that the three sites listed above offer different and contrasting ‘inside’ opinions. Bottom line is that you need to dig and scratch to put together some kind of ‘transparent’ image of each company. Clearly, the sites do cater to lower tier ranks, as witnessed by the level of employees and trainees writing in their commentary. Moreover, they can get very granular at a local level (which makes consummate sense for most jobs). Meanwhile, switching to my consultant/pundit hat, I can’t help but think that there are some important conclusions that senior executives among leaders of industry should be aware of. How many leading companies are paying proper attention, I wonder? Herewith some of the findings for my research.
Comparably is the only site that attempts to directly rate company culture. Unfortunately, the number of ratings in the non-tech industry of Beauty/Personal Care is quite feeble. How does Comparably constitute “company culture”? It’s a bit of a black box, in that Comparably just cites that it comes from “employee ratings and reviews.” Ironic, for a company professing to promote transparency. Ratings were only available among 5 of the 10 biggest beauty companies (at the corporate level). Ratings ranged from B (L’Oreal) to D (Estee Lauder). The caveat is that the number of ratings was light (let’s say statistically meaningless) in most cases. Meanwhile, both Glassdoor and ChooseMyCompany prefer to provide an overall company score. See a compilation below.
Top CEO’s in Beauty
Another factor of great importance for me regards the CEO. To what extent is the leader respected, admired, even enjoyed? Much like the overall grades in figure 1, the results provided in Comparably and Glassdoor show a relatively low average. [Comparably provides a rating of CEOs that is only in USA, and is separated out by city location for the HQ.] There is no/little data on other elements that I might want to know, such as to what extent the CEO leads by example, has integrity and listens. In figure 2 (below), ranked in descending order by the Glassdoor approval rating, the only other stark conclusion one can make is that all ten CEOs are men, and this is in an industry selling beauty, personal care (and household) products, whose customer is, of course, largely female.
When I did a dive into the ranking of these ten companies by country, whether it was a “best place to work” or a top ranked CEO, the pickings were slim (figure 3), especially compared to tech companies. But, I’d argue the scores were poor against a whole slew of other industries. Across the five countries, only two CEOs from the top 10 companies featured at all: Louis Vuitton CEO (ie not LVMH CEO, Bernard Arnault) in France (#1) and P&G’s David Taylor was picked twice (in Britain and US). For the rest, it makes for a bleak reading.
Great Places to Work?
Choosing the Right Company
For having spent a considerable amount of time looking through the different profiles and company stats, there are several conclusions for prospective candidates. Among the three sites, Glassdoor stands out for the largest, most global set of data. Depending on your country, the other sites can provide some good complementary information. If you’re tech-centric, Comparably provides a bigger pool of companies. If you’re a trainee and based in France (or Europe), Choose My Company could be the better starting point.
If you’re exploring working in the beauty business, first, I suggest you need to be zeroing in on the specific job and brand (not just the corporation) in order to get some juicy (read: authentic) and more granular information about the potential fit. In the end of the day, your immediate boss and environment will dictate your engagement and fulfillment. Secondly, from the standpoint of making a career move, the sites provide some good information about the interview process, salaries and company benefits, even for the trainees (esp Choose My Company). Thirdly, on the positive side, you do yet get a feel for the nature of the industry and the companies, especially when you start to look at what others say about other companies. Whether they can help to figure out if there is a long-term fit is unlikely. Nothing will replace your intuition and doing some personal investigation with current employees IRL. Personally, I would select the company with the portfolio of brands that speak most to you!
Looking at these stats and findings as a former executive within Beauty, I have altogether other conclusions what these sites say about the top 10 companies. Above all, it does seem that these top companies will need to find a way to improve their overall ratings. The appetite for old-style management will eventually disappear. For having spent 16 years in the beauty industry, I discovered many wonderful things and met some amazing people. Yet, this little scan via these three sites more or less confirmed that the issues I had seen before are still more or less prevalent. Top management is still male dominated. The calibre and culture of these companies is not as healthy as it could or should be. Yes, the industry is mature (top ten were -2% in 2017 sales in USD) and growth seems to come more from acquisitions (M&A, new brands, territories, etc.) as opposed to organic growth. But, if employee engagement doesn’t improve, the calibre of recruit will decline. And, I believe strongly that increasingly the consumer will want to seek out brands that represent their values (and products, of course, that work, i.e. do what they say promise). And these values are being brought alive by employees.
For candidates interested in this industry, I say: pick your match carefully and check out the nitty gritty details of the inside culture. Consider your long-term aspirations and how this first step will contribute to these goals. Be aware of the alignment between your personal values and those of the company. It’s a glamorous industry, but the shine can quickly come off if you don’t find the right match.
*I worked for 16 years at L’Oréal!