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Talent Innovation Summit Countdown: Inside GoDaddy's Diversity Transformation Story

A few years ago, GoDaddy was renowned worldwide as the go-to domain registrar, a nearly billion dollar company that you could always count on for bold advertisements. Today, there’s so much more to their story. GoDaddy is known by many as an exceptionally inclusive environment, one that celebrates and empowers women in particular.

Katee Van Horen has had a lot to do with that. As GoDaddy’s VP of Global Engagement and Inclusion, she’s helped lead a series of initiatives that have redefined her team’s culture. And at our Talent Innovation Summit, she’ll take us behind the scenes of that transformation. Recently, we had the pleasure of chatting with Katee about her team’s journey, and why she’s excited to share it with us on September 18th.

1) How would you describe GoDaddy’s culture and employer brand five years ago?

Five years ago, we had a brand issue - our external marketing did not match our internal culture. We have always had a gritty, get sh*t done mentality. Now our marketing matches that and really focuses on our small business owners who are building their ventures.

2) Flash forward to today; you’re widely recognized as an employer of choice for women in particular. What do you think your employees value most about GoDaddy in 2017?

I think employees like the inclusive culture, where they can be their authentic selves and feel valued. People know that diverse teams build better products - that’s not just a sound bite. Women can come to GoDaddy and do the best work of their lives, and they will be held to the same bar that their male counterparts are held to. I also think the openness to feedback at all levels has created something special. People know they can question and push back- all for the sake of making things better. That’s amazing.

3) In your opinion, what do most companies get wrong when they try to address Diversity and Inclusion?

Trying to eat the elephant in one bite. You have all heard the expression that to eat an elephant, you need to do it one bite at a time. Diversity and Inclusion is big. You cannot solve everything at once. So take bite size pieces, incremental steps, to improve your employee experience. Also, I think a lot of times folks start with recruiting, and that’s great. But if recruiters are selling a culture that doesn’t yet exist- folks won’t stay. We have to build the right culture that is inclusive and welcoming so everyone can have a great experience. We have to make sure that the recruiters have a great culture to talk about to candidates, and make it real.

4) What decision have you made as VP of Global Engagement and Inclusion that you’re proudest of?

I launched a pilot Sponsor program that involved some of our women and underrepresented minorities. We know that a lot of times, these groups have less exposure to opportunities for advancement and are less likely to raise their hands for promotions and pay increases. Asking our most senior leaders to sponsor these folks has been great. One of the participants, an African American woman, was just given a promotion. Would she have gotten the promotion at some point in the future? Yes, and I would like to think that the exposure to the senior leader helped to move things along more quickly. He (the senior leader) was able to have some great discussions about her technical abilities and what she was interested in doing. That exposure leading to promotions is really leveling the playing field. I am pretty proud of that!

5) If you were talking to another team with a mountain to climb in establishing a gender-balanced workforce, what’s the first piece of advice you’d give them?

I would start by looking at your numbers with your leadership team on a regular basis. Having it visually represented makes it more real for folks. I would also say, make sure you have a culture where folks know they can be themselves, and that they will be valued and supported for their individual contributions. And lastly, celebrate wins. When you see a lightbulb go off for a leader around diversity or increase a team’s diversity, celebrate.

6) What are you most excited for at the Talent Innovation Summit?

Lever is known for streamlining the hiring process and making it better for organizations. The fact that they are bringing together a speaker lineup on Day 1 that is wholly focused on diversity and inclusion speaks volumes to how they are again trying to make the talent acquisition function ever better. If you have the tools, partnered with the right mindset of your recruiters, you can achieve amazing results. I am also glad they have brought in great disruptors in TA. Stacy Donovan-Zapar, Matt Charney, and so many others sharing their thoughts will get people thinking. I love it!

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Thanks for sharing such powerful advice with us, Katee! Your session can’t come soon enough.

Editor's note: Now, you can watch the recording of Katee's talk here! Listen to the powerful story she shared. 

 Featured photo courtesy of Jason Henry of the New York Times. 

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