How GoDaddy Broke Free of Bikini Marketing and Won Big in Recruiting

Once known for its bro culture and scantily clad models in ads, internet company GoDaddy has since become a top workplace for women in technology, achieving an incredible turnaround in the perception of its employer brand and culture.

Like many tech companies, GoDaddy has publicly prioritized diversity and inclusion in recruiting and retention. And their work has paid off: in its recent annual diversity report, the company revealed that the promotions of women jumped 30% since 2016.

This past September, Glassdoor spoke with Katee Van Horn, GoDaddy’s Vice President of Global Engagement & Inclusion, about the company’s 180-degree turn. Read on to find out how GoDaddy broke free of its bikini marketing to win big in recruiting.

Making a commitment to change

When current CEO Blake Irving came aboard in 2012, one of his first steps was to drop the sexist advertising GoDaddy was so well-known for. Since then, the company has completely revamped its marketing.

“Five years ago we made a change, our new CEO said we’re done with those commercials and it has been a great way to share that the internal culture that we have had for years is reflected in our external marketing,” said Van Horn. “Instead of talking about [ads], we’re talking about our products; we’re talking about amazing work.”

Aligning company branding with employer branding

As a domain registrar and web hosting company targeting small business owners, of whom 36.3% are women, GoDaddy knew that to stay relevant, it needed to show both customers and employees that it was product-focused and female-friendly.

That meant starting with its culture as it was. Explained Van Horn: “We said we’re not going to recruit a bunch of diverse employees until we have the right culture in place… We wanted to make sure it was definitely a place that they would feel included, they would feel like they could do the best work of their lives.”

Once the external marketing started to match the product-focused internal culture, the company could diversify its hiring – like focusing on new grads initiatives, moving from 14% female new grad hires in 2014 to 39% in 2017.

Asking employees to share their stories

“It’s about the culture, the work, and [whether] people [are] able to show up as themselves at work,” Van Horn told Glassdoor. Which is why GoDaddy encourages employees to share their stories publicly on social media, Glassdoor and a new Medium site called GoDaddy Brave.

“It features different stories from folks that have gone through a journey, whether that’s gender transition, working in a job they didn’t love and then coming to GoDaddy and finding their place,” said Van Horn.

“Whatever it might be, whatever their story is, they get to share those and then we share them broadly and ask people to go to share on social media because telling the stories – like those one-on-one conversations with someone at a recruiting event – is great. That’s a huge win for everybody.”

Weaving inclusive principles into HR processes 
Instead of doing explicit unconscious bias training, GoDaddy chose to weave unconscious bias ideas and concepts into its people processes, thanks in part, to work with the Clayman Institute for Gender Research.

In an effort to block bias in performance reviews, GoDaddy coaches managers to evaluate employees on their accomplishments and how well they live the company’s values. The company also put in place promotion flags to combat employees’ own barriers around asking for a promotion.

Making real change stick

The results speak for themselves: according to GoDaddy’s diversity report, the number of women at the company has increased by two percentage points since last year, from 24% to 26%. Meanwhile, 31% of senior leadership teams now consists of women, up from 26% in 2016. Best of all? In spite of this progress, GoDaddy shows no signs of slowing down.

Watch Katie Van Horn’s entire discussion of GoDaddy’s approach to diversity in recruiting here.