You’ve probably seen the ads. If you haven’t, it’s probably for the best.
GoDaddy, a web hosting company, was no stranger to using sexism to sell. Using advertisements that feature blatant objectification through cleavage, wet bikinis, and innuendos, GoDaddy quickly became infamous for their overt attitude towards women.
Their public persona suited their internal environment. The advertising style influenced the company atmosphere, and staff members described a culture of day drinking, gossiping about interoffice relations coupled with slut-shaming, and dismissed sexual harassment cases.
Research found by the human resources department showed that women were systematically valued less in leadership capacity, communication ability, and likelihood to take initiative. The majority of manager positions were dominated by men. The company described jobs with overly aggressive terminology, saying that one, for example, must “wrestle problems to the ground,” to work there.
Like most tech companies, GoDaddy was riddled with problems, especially of the sexist variety, and there was minimal effort to change. That is, until 2013, when GoDaddy underwent a change in leadership, hiring Blake Irving as Chief Executive who implemented the 180 degree progression that made the company one of the top places for women in tech.
“We needed to become the most inclusive company in tech,” said Mr. Irving. “We had to erase the idea that meritocracy is enough.”
Since Irving started, GoDaddy got rid of the sexist ads, first and foremost. The company also has implemented policies on equal pay, diversification of workforce through recruitment, and the promotion of women and other minorities. Irving believed that there was a lot of neglected talent among tech minorities.
But asides from the bigger initiatives, the GoDaddy has focused on eliminating more subtle, internalized, sexist biases. GoDaddy executives decided that in order to improve the company as a whole, they needed to convince every single employee that sexism in the workplace was both prevalent and understated, even if they considered the environment to be fair. Through changes in language use and employee evaluation, the environment at GoDaddy transitioned to be more universally inclusive.
Now, women make up over a quarter of senior leadership. Half of engineers hired in the past year and over 20% of technical staff are women. Irving was the keynote speaker at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in 2015 to talk about GoDaddy’s journey to become one of the most inclusive companies in tech.
Not Perfect, But Still An Example
Though they have made a lot of progress since the 2005 Super Bowl Ads, GoDaddy still faces critique. Staff has said that inequality is still tangible within the company, and the push for progress is not evenly distributed. Some are still willing to turn a blind eye to issues when an executive isn’t looking.
“We know this is a process,” Mr. Irving said “We know we’re not going to fix it in a day, or a year, or five years.”
While the company certainly has room for improvement as most do, they still have undergone an impressive transformation over the years. If the notorious GoDaddy can undergo the transformation it has, the tech world has no excuse for indifference.
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