Surprise role model

How GoDaddy became a top workplace for women in tech

Katee Van Horn, GoDaddy's vice president for engagement and inclusion, at the GoDaddy offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., July 19, 2017. (Jason Henry/The New York Times)

GoDaddy, the internet company once known for making sexist commercials that were offensive in a million ways, has turned a corner in recent years. As The New York Times reports, GoDaddy is now gaining recognition as one of the best workplaces for women in the tech industry.

The change has been spearheaded by former Microsoft and Yahoo executive Blake Irving, who joined GoDaddy as CEO in 2012. One of Irving’s first orders of business was putting a stop to the company’s infamous commercials, which inevitably featured scantily clad women and cheesy innuendos. The company has also sought to recruit more female staff members. Overall, nearly a quarter of GoDaddy’s employees are women — a number that is on par with national averages. But half of the engineers hired at GoDaddy last year are female, and women occupy 26 percent of top leadership positions.

The changes that GoDaddy has made go deeper than simply hiring more women. The company is making systemic changes to the way it analyzes performance reviews and promotions. When the human resources department reviewed how GoDaddy assesses qualities like leadership capacity, communication, and taking initiative, it found that women consistently scored lower — not because they were less capable, but because the criteria made it difficult for them to excel.

For instance, the review found that women often scored lower than men on communication “in part because they were more likely to be a family’s primary parent, and so were more likely to be off email in the early evening during homework and bedtime hours,” the Times reports. So the company sought to shift focus from how quickly a person responds to messages.

“It’s what they say, whether their responses have impact,” Katee Van Horn, GoDaddy’s vice president for engagement and inclusion, told the Times. “We shouldn’t be judging people based on how fast they communicate. We should be looking at whether they achieved the goals set for them.”

Such changes might seem minimal in the grand scheme of things, but Van Horn said, “they add up.”

“They reinforce these biases you might not even realize you have,” she said.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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