In an effort to continually erase past blemishes, GoDaddy and its CEO Blake Irving are working hard to associate the brand with feminism. Most recently, this meant funding, producing and screening a documentary on the gender diversity issue in technology.
The movie, called ‘CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap,’ explores issues of brogrammer culture and includes an interview with Pinterest engineer and vocal Silicon Valley diversity critic Tracey Chou. The 80-minute film was selected for the Tribeca Film Festival.
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GoDaddy has struggled to rebrand its image in the past few years, particularly due to its degrading and crude commercials featuring women and their bodies as racy furniture promoting the brand.
Celebrities of varying fame, including NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, fitness guru Jillian Michaels and lingerie model Bar Rafaeli, have shown off their bodies or their sex appeal to help GoDaddy hawk websites at cheap prices.
Irving, for his part, has done real things to correct the issue. Since taking over as CEO in late 2012, Irving hired a female CTO and stopped the overtly sexual ads the company was known for. According to The Phoenix Business Journal, Irving became involved with the documentary after being approached by director Robin Hauser Reynolds during the Grace Hopper Conference — although Irving participated in what ReadWrite’s Selena Larson reported as a “tone-deaf” panel on Male Allies.
His genuine earnestness motivated him to follow through on not only funding ‘CODE,’ but to screen it in the company’s Scottsdale, Arizona headquarters as well as their satellite offices in the Bay area. Additionally, the Phoenix Business Journal reports that Irving maintains a network for woman at GoDaddy, and the company offers an unconscious bias training (likely similar to the one that Facebook publicly released last week) for its leaders.
I could argue for days about whether the root cause of the absence of women in tech is due to minimal resources or structural bias that keeps women from promotions and raises. It’s also important to question whether any of GoDaddy’s ventures or resources matter if it doesn’t release a diversity report to provide concrete proof on the changes’ effectiveness. But neither of these things are the most important question.
What I would really like to know is whether the work that GoDaddy has done to associate itself with diversity and allyship will ever actually work. The company has spent the last three years wandering around like the manic Lady Macbeth, perpetually scrubbing out the stains of misogyny past. There’s no doubt that any work that is done on behalf of diversity is a good thing, but is GoDaddy too far gone?
Did they lose us at the tramp stamp?
Maybe we will know by next year’s Super Bowl, where the company will try to not only avoid the ire of women, but also animal rights advocates. Until then, if GoDaddy wants to continue to remold itself into a champion of diversity, it should show us the receipts.
➤ Debugging the gender gap: GoDaddy screens female coding documentary [Phoenix Business Journal]