How GoDaddy Reinvented Themselves As Gender Champions

GoDaddy’s mission is to radically shift the global economy toward life-fulfilling independent ventures. We power the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures. With more than 14 million customers worldwide and more than 63 million domain names under management, GoDaddy is the place people come to name their idea, build a professional website, attract customers, and manage their work.

One of our key business priorities over the past several years has been shifting the brand towards a much more inclusive organization. Our Women in Tech initiative started with the appointment of Blake Irving as GoDaddy’s CEO in 2013. We had used edgy marketing tactics in the past to become the largest domain registrar in the world and roughly a billion-dollar company. We distinguished ourselves as a virtual household name in terms of brand recognition, but remained misunderstood as an employer. Everyone in the U.S. knows who GoDaddy is, a halo brand for domains, but not a lot of people know what GoDaddy does. There was a strong business need to change this.

Our top 3 strategic initiatives as we began this transformation in 2013 were to transform the brand, grow the business globally, and build a diverse and best in class product and engineering function. We traditionally did not have a strong employment brand within the engineering community. In fact, we had a negative employment brand hiring engineers, particularly from Silicon Valley. We had to find ways to reestablish our employment brand messaging and our advertising to be more about what we do and who we do it for.


We believe diverse teams build better products. We’re committed to balancing the gender gap & recruiting great women at all levels to help us better serve our customers, more than half of whom are women who own small businesses.

To help GoDaddy become a more inclusive environment, we committed to a variety of initiatives that include networking, mentoring, sponsorships, data-sharing, salary transparency, and STEM education partnerships.


One of the first steps we took was deliberately shifting our marketing approach. We moved from an awareness phase of “Who GoDaddy Is” to a transition phase promoting “What GoDaddy Does” for small businesses globally.

We needed to show the world that we had changed the direction of our advertising and marketing. Our first big marketing move was with a Super Bowl ad in which a real woman (not actor) quit her day job during the SB ad in order to start her own small business, and follow her passion. This was truly an ad that illustrated how we help people follow their passion.

Our employees embraced the efforts, too. Our corporate branding efforts to attract people to our site did not reflect our internal culture and our employees wanted people to know that where they worked was an awesome company with an inclusive culture. A place where you have a voice and can do the best work of your career. This was one of the reasons we launched GoDaddy Brave, an employee blog series on Medium where GoDaddy employees share stories of bravery in their personal and professional lives.

Recruiting became laser-focused on recruiting women. We initially did not put any formal rules or mandates in place, we just focused on proactively expanding our pool of candidates to include more women. We changed our branding tactics to address a larger market of women, and leveraged the women in the company to refer women they knew. We also added data to our quarterly scorecards. We now track how many women we hire in our customer support team, and how many female engineers we hire every quarter. We can view this by location and level as well.

Employment Branding efforts included a deep review of all our messaging. Our website at one point noted our “Sunnyvale office was like a Stanford Engineering dorm”, needless to say we changed that. Our job descriptions referred to engineers as “code ninjas”. That had to go. We adopted a tool,, to make every job description more gender neutral.

Our people operations team played a huge role in this as well. Compensation, HRIS and Talent Management worked with the leadership team to build our compensation model (title conventions and leveling company-wide). We also started tracking data, current and future, we wanted to better understand. Our talent management team engaged with the Clayman Institute from Stanford on a project that would dramatically change the way we assess performance in the company. We partnered to eliminate bias and drive consistent performance evaluations and calibrations.

Our communications department, internal and external, played a huge role in defining our messaging and engaging top news publications who could help tell our story.

We put ourselves out there and were one of the first tech companies to share our salary data by gender and role. This year we included our diversity stats as well (details below).


We attacked this shift towards becoming a more inclusive organization across a variety channels. This started with how we present ourselves externally. We changed our marketing campaigns to reflect what we do as a company and the customers we support. Most people who know GoDaddy know us as a Domain Registrar, but we have 55+ products and services spanning Website Building, Hosting, Security, Online Marketing, Email and Office products, to name a few.

We made a clear shift in our Super Bowl advertising to focus on our core customer – the small business entrepreneur. This is our ad from 2015.

GoDaddy raises a chip with some dip to the men and women who sacrifice so much to run their businesses.

We also focused our efforts on developing deep relationships with diverse organization. Blake was invited by the Anita Borg Institute and Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing to sit on a male allies panel to open the dialogue and build a relationship with this community. This was a tough crowd because the female engineers were still associating GoDaddy with our previous marketing. GoDaddy was not a desired member of this community but we persisted, convinced them of our transformation and sincerity. Eventually we won them over by being very transparent with our new branding approach and focus.

We have gratefully been a platinum sponsor and corporate partner member for the last 3 years. Blake has taken to the stage at the last two events, once as a keynote. Blake was not the only one to speak at these events. We’ve had many female delegates and male allies attend and speak at the GHC every year. This year four different women spoke to standing room only crowds about how women can be successful in tech.

Blake was also an Executive Producer of the documentary Code – Debugging the Gender Gap. CODE exposes the dearth of American female and minority software engineers and explores the reasons for this gender gap. CODE raises the question: what would society gain from having more women and minorities code?

Irana Wasti, SVP of Productivity joined 3 ½ years ago and lead the charge in establishing GoDaddy’s Women in Technology employee resource group (ERG). She partnered with an amazing group of technologists and GDWIT is currently our largest group with 500+ members. More employees picked up on these efforts to create a variety of new ERG’s across the company. Additional ERG’s sprung up quickly as grassroot efforts company wide.

  • Women in Tech (GDWIT)
  • GoDaddy UNITED, our LGBT group
  • GoDaddy Veterans (GDVET)
  • African Americans in Tech (GDAAIT)
  • Latinos in Tech (GDLIT)
  • GoDaddy Fit (GDFIT), our Health and Wellness group

We are so proud of the different groups and the engagement of our employees in making us better.

Here is a bit more detail about our GDWIT group:

GoDaddy Women In Technology (GDWIT) is an employee volunteer driven group that will run company-wide events, including live broadcast of speaker events, mixers and volunteer opportunities. Each GoDaddy location will also have its own GDWIT chapter and is completely inclusive, with membership and event participation open to all full time employees, including both men and women.

Our goals are to create an ongoing conversation among employees regarding issues of interest to women in the workplace and to provide new opportunities to create impact for women and girls in our local communities.

These conversations have been lead by a stellar speaker series and through ongoing events:

  • Joy Buolamwini, 25 year-old experiential entrepreneur, Rhodes Scholar and Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholar
  • Maria Klawe, President, Harvey Mudd College
  • Madeline Di Nonno, CEO, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
  • Mitchell Baker, Chairwoman, Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation
  • Elisa Steele, CEO and President at Jive Software
  • BlogHer, Co-Founders, Lisa Stone and Elisa Camahort
  • Bites and Bytes, a networking event in Sunnyvale featuring Danica Patrick
  • Ashley Milne-Tyte, podcast host of The Broad Experience: a conversation about women, the workplace, and success
  • Girl Geek, a GoDaddy GDWIT co-sponsored mentoring dinner
  • Danica Patrick, the most successful woman in the history of American open-wheel racing
  • Telle Whitney, CEO and President of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology
  • TEDWomen, three-session conference about the power of women and girls to be creators and change-makers

We also had a focused effort to ensure gender balance in our Executive team. GoDaddy has always had great female representation in our senior leadership team. Barb Rechterman, CMO (2nd employee and Forbes 50 Most Influential CMO’s of 2014) and Nima Kelly, Chief Legal Counsel (14+ years at GoDaddy and named Most Influential Women in Arizona, AZ Business) to name a few, but Blake wanted more.

Blake led the efforts to hire Elissa Murphy to be our CTO, Lauren Antonoff, SVP of Product and Engineering, Karen Tillman, Chief Communications Officer, Debra Weissman, SVP of Cloud Platforms and countless more. We focused heavily on interns and new college graduates, too. It has been a top down and bottom up approach.

godaddy equality

Gender Equality

For the second consecutive year, GoDaddy has audited internal salary data, analyzing like-for-like roles, comparing how men and women were placed in the salary band for comparable roles. GoDaddy sets its salary bands by role and level, and ranks well in how it compensates its employee against industry averages.

The new salary data shows women, in technical ranks, and overall, make a penny more than men, but men in more senior leadership roles make about two cents more on the dollar than their female counterparts. Below are the breakouts in various categories across the company with year-over-year data.

We also made sure that we were not perpetuating the problem of salary inequity. When we have an open headcount, we look at the budget for the role and make an offer based on what the role is worth, not what they were making in their past roles.

GoDaddy Gender Diversity

The latest data shows GoDaddy has slightly increased the number of women in technology ranks. Women in the company’s leadership category held at twenty-five-percent, the senior leader category has lagged, as compared to last year.

A closer look at the engineering ranks, shows a year-over-year improvement with women in entry-level jobs, however women in more senior engineering posts are lacking.

Our current focus is shifting to the mid-career and senior- level female technologists. We have broadened our focus to also grow our black, latinx and asian populations so we can build an even more diverse team.

2016 Data: See Infographic below

  • 36% Female Interns
  • 50% Female New College Graduates
  • 25% Female Tech employees
  • 25% Female Senior Leadership and Leaders in the company

godaddy infographic

Recruiting was hard. In the early days people were not applying to our jobs, especially women. Change does not happen overnight and you do not get credit for talking points. I remember vividly my first female candidate was a very senior woman who was introduced to me after being heavily convinced by one of our executives to “just talk to us”. I could tell immediately, just from her body language, she was not interested. She took the day off to meet with us as a favor. At the end of the day I asked her how it went and she noted that she was very impressed by everyone she met. She stated, “It was not at all what I had expected.” She had other offers but was impressed by the company, the team, and the responsibilities of the role. However, she was struggling with our existing perception. She accepted the offer and now bleeds green and orange as one of our biggest advocates.

“I recall the first time they called me. I was concerned to have GoDaddy on my resume but after meeting the people I was excited to take on their staffing and branding challenges.”

— An example of some of the perception challenges we had to overcome

This is a common GoDaddy employee story for new employees over the past few years, but one that is beginning to shift as our efforts to be gender champions are gaining momentum.

The word is getting out on the type of organization we are today. We’ve had a ton of great press around Women in Tech. We also partnered with a broad range of Women in Tech organizations, including but not limited to:

We have hosted meetings at our offices and attended many more within the communities we operate. Embedding ourselves in these communities allows us to better support them, and learn how we can continually refine our efforts to be even more inclusive.

Get Social

Now that we had some positive press and internal wins to share, we had to pick up our social game when it came to employment branding. We approached this across several platforms where we altered messaging based on target audiences.

LinkedIn allowed us to directly sponsor adds to women in the markets we live in. These are a few of those sponsored and targeted posts.

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Glassdoor has been equally effective in sharing our story.

Screenshot2016 12 0509.28.47

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Screenshot2016 12 0509.29.01

Twitter and our GoDaddy Life page has also been a great medium for us.

Screenshot2016 12 0509.29.11

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Social Media has allowed us to amplify our message in very positive and constructive way. It has granted us the opportunity to engage in a conversation in the forums people chose to use. Facebook and Medium are other social sites we use heavily.


The results have been overwhelming. Here are a few:

Pivotal Moments – GoDaddy IPO, Grace Hopper Conferences and Best Place to Work.

Up until our IPO we had not made a single hire in any of our new development centers (Sunnyvale, SF, Seattle or Boston) by someone applying. Fast forward through our IPO, Grace Hopper and Best Companies to Work For, and we now sit at just under 60% of our hires are applicants in engineering and 31% of our hires in engineering are employee referrals, up from 17%.

Our general applications climbed to 13,000+ per quarter, 3,000 of those are engineering applications. These numbers are up from roughly 4,000 and zero qualified engineering applicants. This does not include new college graduates or interns which hit 7,000+ qualified applicants, after we removed duplicates and other nonqualified of 15,000+ applications. This has been an eye opening blessing and a curse. We pride ourselves on responding to an applicant within five days. Needless to say, this has become very challenging to do so and has created new challenges for us to solve in not becoming a black hole for applicants.

The Anita Borg Institute relationship has been extremely successful and massively influential in helping us change our perception in the industry.

Other press releases

We’ve become a champion for the Employers for Pay Equity initiative. To learn more, join the pledge, or to see the companies already involved, please visit: (website created by GoDaddy)

We also stepped up our military and veteran hiring, including supporting the “Joining Forces” initiative. We pledged to hire military veterans & their spouses as part of the White House Joining Forces initiative.

GoDaddy’s focus on Women in Tech is what we would call our Diversity 1.0 initiative. We are one of a few corporate leaders in the tech community with a bright light shining on us as we strive to create equality in the workplace for Women. However, GoDaddy’s Diversity 2.0 is just getting started. We are taking what we have learned over the past few years to adopt a comprehensive strategy to be a truly diverse company and continue our leadership in this arena. We will continue to be transparent with our data, the good, the bad and the ugly because we are committed to this initiative and believe transparency leads to change.

gd bike


Hiring senior executives and college graduates has not been easy but we’ve had more success than targeting mid-career and senior engineering talent, which is essential to rounding out our gender balance at all levels. This is probably the most difficult are for all technology companies, but this has been a particular miss for us and a focus we should have addressed earlier. “Making meaningful change in addressing gender inequality across our industry will take time, focus and continued transparency,” said GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving. “While we see improvement with women in the early stages of their careers, there’s more work to do when it comes to mentoring, promoting and hiring more women into our senior ranks.”

GoDaddy is a great company with amazing women that have been leading the charge for a long time. At times, it has been difficult to stay focused on our mission to change the perception of GoDaddy and not get emotionally caught up in how we were unfairly blasted on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or by the press. It was draining because our employees, male and female, love working at GoDaddy. It is truly a special place and it’s been an incredibly journey seeing our culture, corporate brand and employment brand come together as one.

Inadequate systems have made analyzing our data very difficult. It’s a painfully and manual exercise, and you have to be 100% accurate. Most companies have stopped to share the 20,000 foot overview but we noticed that you need to double click on the data to truly see why things are happening – not just a snapshot of the what’s happening.

We missed the opportunity to drive more social awareness and referrals through our GDWIT members. We are addressing this now by teaching people how to share our jobs, GoDaddy Life stories, and hosted events through social channels but the opportunity to teach them about social engagement (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook) and then leverage their network for referrals could have made our recruiting efforts easier. If you are a woman, most likely you are connected to female peers from your industry in your social networks. Promoting your company and jobs to your network will increase visibility and exposure to more female professionals, and drive more referrals through those network connections. We’re becoming much better at leveraging these networks.

Here is some great examples we wish we started sooner, from Gail (Borod) Giacobbe, VP of Product Management, and her posts for a Senior Product Manager and blog series Should I Stay or Should I Go? I did note this was company-wide, right?  Blake has taken center stage many times but we have an army of male allies, such as Steven Aldrich, Chief Product Officer posting this piece Creating a Diverse Workforce … Triple Bottom Line Benefits and Christopher Carfi, Director of Content Marketing who posted this Seven Ways to be a Better Ally. We are truly in this together.

godaddy hackathon


Employee Driven

This was a business initiative driven by the CEO based on his values and beliefs but this was also a huge company effort. People Operations, Recruiting, Communications, Branding, Marketing and every employee rallied around these efforts. This became a Cultural initiative, a Diversity and Inclusion initiative, and as we started off on this journey we joined the many other technology companies striving to effect change. Eventually, we emerged as a proud leader in this global community.

Go All In

Stay in dialogue, be authentic. This was a highly charged and emotional journey, on both sides. We focused on what we could change today and in the future. We became extremely transparent and this was a huge cultural shift for us. We had never adopted employee social media, it was highly frowned upon, or ever considered sharing our salary, gender or diversity data. This was very new for the company. Looking back, it was very impressive how everyone just leaned in, took part and embraced the new GoDaddy.

Data-Driven Business Decisions

As much as there was an emotional side to this transformation, there was data that informed our decisions too.

  • ~9 out of 10 people Know GoDaddy (Halo brand for Domains)
  • ~2 out of 10 know what we do
  • 58% of our customers are women

By changing our advertising more people know what we do now (6.8 out of 10) and we are much less offensive to the majority of our customers.

The most interesting question I have been asked through this process was, “How do we get to 50% women engineers and how long would it take?” At first I thought this was a crazy request but we went through the exercise of pulling all the data.

  • Current levels
  • Attrition of Men and Women
  • Current velocity of organic female hires
  • Calculation of how long it would take to get to 50% organically (1% per year)
  • Calculation of what it would take @3% and 5% per year

This was a very challenging exercise when you think about it but as we broke it down we realized if we leveraged our WIT group for referrals, gave LinkedIn licenses to our senior females and drove branding campaigns targeted to women we could get to 3%. If we added resources (recruiters/sources), invested in other programs, external resources and branding initiatives we could affect 5%. Sometimes taking the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) and breaking it down into manageable parts forces you think about the small challenges incrementally vs. the really big one. I ended up truly valuing this exercise because we now have many actionable ways to incrementally improve and when you add them all up they equal a much larger number.

godaddy beanbag


We use Ultipro as our HRIS system. We had to go through a massive data clean up and downloaded the data to Excel. Painful all around. We really did not have the best systems to manage this efficiently, excruciatingly manual. Data was critical to some of the salary, gender and diversity data we shared publicly. We use Jobvite for our ATS. We also used Textio, a job posting tool that scrapes all of our postings and ensures a gender neutral tone.

Note: This article originally appeared at

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