Some very talented people, but also a few unscrupulous ones willing to bully or extort others to get their way. Management needs to figure out that a strong argument is undermined by unprofessional behavior... or just as frequently, the lack of professionalism belies the weak (and sometimes capricious) position.
Freedom to work independently
I can't speak for all groups, but I felt I was often micro-managed and then blamed for not making the best decisions.
Management used to give us monthly talks about the state of the industry and strategic decision-making... then management got bloated and the decision-making began to be communicated less clearly and more infrequently.
There were some very competent women who had been at the company a long time, though none of them were in senior technical positions. I thought that a couple of them should have been promoted.
Attitude towards older colleagues
This one is hard to answer: I had a lot of tension with a younger but more senior engineer. Hard to know if he was ageist or just insecure about his own performance.
The company was much more siloed than Intel, Microsoft, or Cisco.
The semi-annual evaluations were highly subjective, and changed on a regular basis. Further, the company evaluated you for sticking to goals, even though management often abandoned projects mid-stream in the name of "being Agile" and adjusting posture to meet customer needs.
As I said, the company was struggling for direction. It's SAN and FC core businesses had plateaued, and it was struggling to become the market leader in the SDN arena.
Obviously this didn't happen, because the company was acquired by Broadcom and it's SDN BU is up for sale.
There was definitely pressure to stay in the good graces of some of the more 'difficult' co-workers who had the ear of senior management or even the odd executive officer...
It was a software company, so other than having a 19" rack fall over onto you in the lap, about the most likely workplace accident would be dropping a laptop on your foot.
The problem space was interesting, though sometimes too many overlapping features were pursued at once and they occasionally combined in destabilizing ways. Testing was often inadequate, and mostly managed by an off-shore team several timezones away with whom it was difficult to communicate.
Inclusive / Diverse
The company gave a lot of lip service to diversity, though like a lot of progressive Bay Area organizations, as a conservative I often felt I had to keep my head down.