Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness company Goop appears to have a major employee retention problem — and former staffers blame it on low pay, dismissive management, a ‘toxic’ environment, and Gwyneth’s own mercurial nature toward top brass.
Business Insider reports that Goop — which launched as a newsletter in 2008 and has grown into a multimillion dollar company — has lost at least 140 employees in the past two years, with multiple executives including a Chief Financial Officer, Chief Technology Officer, and Chief Risk Officer making exits.
While the pandemic accounted for some staffing loss, sources told the outlet that Goop’s high turnover problem predated COVID-19 layoffs, and that stingy pay, a ‘taxing culture,’ and the 49-year-old Academy Award winner’s habit of picking favorites and then seemingly changing her mind were the causes.
Other ex-employees who have recently griped about the company on Glassdoor have also slammed the ‘bullies’ and ‘mean girls’ who rely on ‘fear-based management,’ saying Gwyneth in particular was ‘wanted to spend her days trying on clothes when the company desperately needed a real CEO.’
Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness company Goop appears to have a major employee retention problem
Business Insider reports that among the 140 or so employees who have left Goop since September 2019, quite a few had been at the top of the company.
They included Chief Content officer Elise Loehnen, who’d been Gwyneth’s second hire in 2014 but stepped down in October 2020. Loehnen, who cohosted Goop’s health conference and appeared on Netflix’s The Goop Lab, said that she was going on sabbatical to write a book.
Former CFO Erica Moore left in August in favor of self-employment, while ex-CTO Juan Paul Ramirez left Goop in May after three and a half years, landing at Boosted Commerce in July.
CRO Kimberly Kreuzberger, who joined Goop in 2015, also left in late 2019 to launch her own company. General counsel Virginia Llewellyn left as well.
While staff, which previously numbered around 250 people, shrunk significantly during the pandemic, COVID-19 may only bear part of the blame.
Dozens of staffers were indeed furloughed in March and April of 2020, with several ultimately getting laid off or quitting.
Former staffers say low pay, dismissive management, a mean girl environment, and Gwyneth’s own mercurial nature toward top brass are the roots of the problem
Business Insider found that among the 140 or so employees who have left Goop since September 2019, many had been at the top of the company
But ex-staffers who spoke to Business Insider indicated there were more dramatic reasons that so many people have called it quits, and that these were issues well before the pandemic.
For one, Gwyneth reportedly plays favorites with her workforce, with one former employee saying: ‘She had definitely had her favorites.’
‘Sometimes when you have founders who are also CEOs, that passion can be a blind spot,’ another anonymous former employee said. ‘Sometimes their ideas fill the room.’
Yet several of those ‘favorites’ have left abruptly or may have even been ‘forced out,’ which has come as a surprise to other employees.
Ex-CTO Juan Paul Ramirez reportedly left this year with ‘little explanation’ to his team, and two of the three former employees that spoke to Business Insider insisted he was pushed out.
They also said Gwyneth was ‘vague’ about why he was leaving — though Ramirez himself insisted in a statement that it was ‘amicable and well-communicated.’
Chief Content officer Elise Loehnen had been Gwyneth’s second hire in 2014 but stepped down in October 2020. She said she was going on sabbatical to write a book
Anonymous former employees say ex-CTO Juan Paul Ramirez (left) left abruptly this year with ‘little explanation’ to his team. He said that it was ‘amicable and well-communicated’
Several former employees echoed these sentiments in reviews on Glassdoor this year.
On griped of ‘instability’ and ‘a lot of resignations and exits that no one knows about until the person is gone,’ while another wrote of ‘lots of random firings.’
Yet another wrote that ‘the company is on a “path to profitability” and likes to trim the fat ad hoc, so job security is never guaranteed — even on top.’
Management style was also the source of repeated complaints.
‘Leadership training is where I’d be spending all my time,’ one former employee said of what the company could do to improve. ‘Honesty, openness. People avoid conflict because they don’t want to hurt people’s feelings.’
The sources complained of being anxious and overworked, which felt at odds with a company with a wellness mission.
One also said that when concerns would be raised, they’d be dismissed.
‘More than once, people during our stand-up [meetings] would ask, “How would you deal with an employee that’s unhappy,” and someone in leadership would just say, “Well, maybe this just isn’t the right company for them,” said a source.
Reviews on Glassdoor call out ‘fear-based management,’ ‘bullies,’ little job security, ‘a blind eye for pain points,’ ‘lots of random firings,’ and a ‘toxic work environment
On Glassdoor, former employees have recently complained that the company has a ‘blind eye for pain points’ and doesn’t ‘listen to … employees when they are screaming for support.’
One went so far as to call Goop ‘the worst experience I’ve ever had at a workplace,’ pointing to ‘fear-based management,’ ‘a clique of OG bullies,’ ‘serious micro-management and lack of leadership,’ ‘catty women who throw each other under the bus,’ and ‘managers who belittle and are condescending due to their own insecurities.’
‘Goop has a big reputation in Los Angeles for being a toxic work environment,’ they added.
One more noted an ‘exclusive mean girls vibe.’
Another former employee wrote in 2020 that Goop was ‘a terrible place to work’ and that Gwyneth was particularly difficult to work for — urging the company to ‘get a real CEO.’
‘Gwyneth was impossible to get feedback from, but we also needed her approval to move forward,’ they wrote. ‘It would take her months to give feedback on simple things that should have taken a day and then she wouldn’t understand why things took so long.
One former employee wrote in 2020 that Goop was ‘a terrible place to work’ and that Gwyneth was particularly difficult to work for — urging the company to ‘get a real CEO’
‘Other times she would simply say something was terrible without articulating why she didn’t like it. She was also clearly less and less interested in the company as time went on and wanted to spend her days trying on clothes when the company desperately needed a real CEO,’ said the ex-employee, who also made note of frequent staff departures.
A final complaint about the company was that it pays below industry standards.
On Glassdoor, former employees have acknowledged that ‘pay isn’t competitive with similar positions at similar companies’ and warned: ‘Don’t expect great pay or stock options.’
‘Goop needs to acknowledge and appreciate their employees by paying them fairly. It’s a no-brainer to keep salaries commensurate with inflation, to start. The thought of seriously discussing promotions or raises at goop in general was a laughable one,’ said one.
One more told Business insider that when they started interviewing for similar jobs at other companies, they realized they were underpaid by at least 40 per cent.