Go Right Ahead: GoDaddy Aims to Fix Promotion, Opportunity, Gender Pay Gap

GoDaddy's Katee VanHorn offers tips on accelerating promotion velocity.

GoDaddy's Katee VanHorn offers tips on accelerating promotion velocity.

“Go fix it.”

That would be Katee VanHorn’s motto as vice president of engagement and inclusion at GoDaddy, Inc., the world’s largest cloud platform company with 63 million domain names and 14.5 million customers.

The company that serves as the small business and individual’s go-to Internet solutions resource for website hosting and more has 5,000 employees in 14 offices around the world. And Van Horn wants to help all of those employees get ahead.

Recently celebrating six years at GoDaddy, VanHorn says she’s now in a role she created at the $1.8 billion tech company that she claims is “passionate” about gender equity, equal pay, promoting women and transparent about it all.

On Equal Pay Day this April 4, and every day of the year, that is a plus.

“Promotion velocity” — or the rate that both men and women are promoted—is what VanHorn says she cares about most.

In its 2016 report, the GoDaddy employee gender breakdown is 24 percent women, 76 percent men. That same year, 41 percent of the entry level jobs at the world’s largest domain name registrar were held by women, a nearly doubled increase from 23 percent in 2015.

Yet, at the top senior level, just seven percent of the jobs are held by women, but again, it marks an increase from 5 percent in 2015. A fair share, or 50 percent, of new engineers are women, and 36 percent of the interns are women at GoDaddy.

50% of new engineers and 36% of the interns are women @GoDaddy #EqualPayDay #womenintech

“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,” according to the GoDaddy release.

“We are paying women more than men in some roles,” says VanHorn, who started her career in a staffing agency, before moving to JP Morgan Chase, and then to Target at the Minneapolis headquarters before coming to GoDaddy at the suggestion of a friend who worked there and loved it.

“This is important to us; we want to pay women equally and take into consideration what is important to all families–parental leave, flex time, part time, for all families including non-traditional families,” she says.

GoDaddy is part of a larger universe of tech companies where the gender gap is prevalent in pay and opportunity. Not all tech companies are doing their best to minimize the disadvantages to women in salary and opportunity.

Not all tech companies are doing their best to minimize disadvantages to women #EqualPayDay

“A recent report from the National Center for Women & Technology explained that women made up 57 percent of the professional workforce but only 25 percent of the employees in computer-related occupations in 2015,” according to SmartAsset.

“When considering the number of female tech workers in leadership roles, the numbers look just as bad. According to Silicon Valley Bank’s 2017 Startup Outlook Report, roughly 70 percent of startups say they have no women on their boards of directors and 54 percent report having zero women in executive roles,” Amanda Dixon writes in Smart Asset.

“Gender pay inequality remains in the tech industry as well at every level. Data from Payscale reveals that the uncontrolled gender pay gap for individual contributors is 19 percent and 22 percent for managers/supervisors,” Dixon writes.

Smart Asset recently ranked the top cities in the country for women in tech where the gender pay gap is negligible. Those cities include Kansas City, Detroit and Indianapolis, where women in tech earn more than men. Washington, D.C., ranked number 1 for women in tech overall.

“With men comprising a high percentage of those in the tech space, it can be difficult as a woman trying to compete. Tech giants like Google, Microsoft and Twitter have extremely low numbers of women in their tech roles, and Uber just added their dismal data to the mix,” writes Elizabeth Grace Becker in NewCoShift.

“In 2015, women in tech roles at these companies were only 16.6 percent at Microsoft, 10 percent at Twitter and 17 percent at Google. When you look at the numbers in executive leadership roles (not just in tech), only 23 percent of Microsoft’s leadership roles are filled by women, 21 percent at Twitter and 21 percent at Google,” Becker writes.

VanHorn says at GoDaddy they are working actively to start women in higher levels at the same pay as men, even though women when hired do not come in with the same salary history or expectations. Men and women start with the same salary at GoDaddy, she says.

That is because GoDaddy is one of the originating signatories of the recent ‘Equal Pay Pledge’ aimed at closing the gender pay gap. Other companies include tech companies Glassdoor, Pinterest, Salesforce, Slack and Spotify.

GoDaddy is also a member of the Employers For Pay Equity consortium that met for the first time in the summer of 2016. To avoid the pushback and criticism that the company seeks to support women and not men, the company incorporates male advocates into GoDaddy Women in Technology efforts.

The pay gap is part of a larger problem of a promotion or opportunity gap, Van Horn says, that GoDaddy is solving by “paying it backwards.”

The pay gap is part of a larger problem of a promotion or opportunity gap #EqualPayDay

VanHorn explains, “When we started sharing data, we looked at numbers and women are not promoted at the same rates. We piloted a program so that after 12 months if someone is at level 1, he or she will be considered for promotion. At level 2, we are looking at 18 months to be considered for promotion.”

This is necessary and laudable in a field where retention of women is weak.

“According to a study in Harvard Business Review, 56 percent of women in technology roles leave their employer mid-career,” writes Kris Van Riper in Network World. “The most departures happen in the first few years of women’s careers, but women leave across all levels—from the most junior to the most senior. Also of note: the study found that women in the high-tech industry leave their jobs at more than twice the rate of their male colleagues.”

To counteract that trend, at GoDaddy, upward mobility and ambition are institutionalized; the program compensates for women and other underrepresented employees who are reluctant to raise their hands and ask for a promotion or raise with automatic reminders for promotions.

So what does VanHorn suggest for you to speed up your own promotion velocity and accelerate the closing of the gender pay gap for your wallet? Here are her seven best tips:

  1. Do your homework to be sure you have the qualifications. Do not hold yourself back. Know what you have in your toolkit. Ask the right questions and know what you are getting into.

  2. Raise your hand and say, “This is important to me.”

  3. When asking for a salary, think that this is what I need to get paid for the job I do. Be honest about what you need. Not only just the base pay, but promotion and flex time, vacation time. Do not sell yourself short.

  4. If you see something broken, fix it. Do something outside your job description. Be a change maker.

  5. People always say do not promote yourself, but do self-promotions and have sponsors speak for you.

  6. Look at the big picture and see if you can make an impact. Decide if the leadership team does make changes.

  7. Decide what you want to be known for. Then do it.


“We want to let people know what this day is about,” VanHorn says about Equal Pay Day. “We want to be sure we are passionate about it and helping to fix it. We want to be a leader in the conversation, partnering with other tech companies and holding each other accountable and not just be lip service.”

She adds that we need to reach a point where everywhere and anywhere you work, “Pay is based on your outcomes, not your gender.”

About the Author

Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldon www.micheleweldon.com