Seeing a 30% jump in female promotions in a single year is a pretty impressive result for any company, but especially one in the technology sector.
That’s what GoDaddy’s CEO Blake Irving says the major internet registrar achieved when he decided to ‘experiment” with how the company was handling internal promotions.
The leader of the US based tech firm explained how the shift occurred to Fortune recently, saying that he doesn’t believe gender diversity progress is measured on numbers alone. GoDaddy’s senior leadership is now 31% female, compared with 26% in 2016, however it’s tech team is slightly down to 19% from 21% in the previous year.
He said he prefers to look at how the company’s achieved a significant jump in the promotion of women, especially in a short amount of time.
So how did they do it?
It started by working with the Institute for Gender Research shortly after Irving took the CEO role in 2012. The Institute observed the company, and determined that GoDaddy was suffering from the same problem affecting most large tech companies – a lack of opportunities being given to women and minorities.
Irving then personally noted that women weren’t getting promoted at the same rate as men – which may have had something to do with the fact the company tended to promote on an ad hoc basic, meaning people would mostly put their hand up to be promoted when they believed they were ready.
Men were more inclined to put their hands up, Irving found. (Possibly due to the so-called gender confidence gap, to unconscious bias, to women feeling they need to retain a steady role due to other responsibilities, or something else? We can’t be sure.)
So Irving shifted the promotions approach. He asked all managers to start reviewing all team members as candidates for promotion, even if such candidates didn’t ask to be promoted.
The result was a 30% improvement in female promotions in a single year.
It’s a simple strategy, one that stemmed from GoDaddy looking beyond their numbers, to its management culture and trends regarding which staff members were able to move up. It didn’t require gurus or management consultants to figure out this approach. Rather, just a leader willing to try something different.
The even better news, at least for the increasingly vocal group of men who’re concerned about the gender diversity initiatives in Silicon Valley, is that Irving believes “men didn’t go backwards” as women progressed.