As an entrepreneur, you’re allowed almost infinite freedom. Freedom to decide when you work, who you work for, and who you partner with. (This freedom makes up for much of the pain that’s associated with running your own business, but that’s another story!)
Not only do you have a right to exert that freedom as an entrepreneur, you may also have an obligation.
Hey, GoDaddy, About Your Marketing, and How It Lost You (Lots of) Website Hosting Revenue
For years, I was a GoDaddy website hosting reseller. They offered reliable service, an easy interface, and good tech support. They fulfilled my needs.
I’d seen those GoDaddy ads with Danica Patrick and other women in skimpy clothes tossing their hair around, but I hadn’t thought much about them. Also, to me, Danica Patrick was a model who was also a huge success in her own right in a field (or rather, on a racecar track) that, up until then, had been dominated 100% by men…
As my partnership with Marisa got rolling, we started making shared decisions about how to invest Online Empowerment’s earnings, and where our shared revenue was coming from.
Around the same time, GoDaddy’s approach to marketing had shifted to even lower levels as they introduced abhorrent new ads (that didn’t feature Danica) full of “dumb” beautiful women making out with unattractive, geeky guys.
I was completely offended by these ads (seriously, you can’t unsee them – don’t search for them if you were fortunate enough to miss them) and, with her usual passion, Marisa described their tactics as “a reprehensible objectification of women!” and flat out refused to be associated with any activities that funneled money in their direction. (I’m pretty sure she never even saw the worst of the commercials.) At that point I was more than happy to comply and started researching alternative website hosting companies for us and our clients!
An interesting side note – until I started doing the #365FeministSelfie project this year – I thought it sounded like fun and I believed in the idea behind it, put forth by Veronica Arreola, to ‘take back the selfie’ from being viewed as a narcissistic hobby, and make it one of truth-telling – I never identified with the word feminist. Afterall, I felt I was the embodiment of it as a female computer technologist, without having to put a label on my views and experiences. All my life I believed I could do whatever I wanted, with equal compensation, regardless of my gender, and I hope to instill that same belief in my boys! And if that’s how you, too, define feminism, then I’m proud to call myself a feminist.
Oh, Hello, Positive Corporate Shift that Wins Back Business
So, we’ve been bumping along with a new website hosting solution and I’ve been making my quiet waves as a feminist. But then, a couple weeks ago, I saw this tweet by Amy Vernon, a leading voice in #WomenWhoTech.
— Blake Irving (@Blakei) October 7, 2014
This brought the whole GoDaddy and website hosting issue back to my attention. Turns out, GoDaddy hired a new CEO in January 2013. Blake Irving replaced Bob Parsons – the guy behind the “provocative” ads and the whole sexist culture that Online Empowerment just couldn’t support.
In a Fortune Magazine article celebrating the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing conference, Blake Irving points out the dismal numbers of women in tech and admits that GoDaddy is only 1% above the average. He looks to education and notes there is a disconnect between the high school girls who say they have an affinity for science and math (74%), and the number of those women who actually graduate from college with STEM degrees (20%). Irving mentions that many blame gender stereotypes and women’s fear of failure, but he credits something else:
“what we’ve created in tech is simply off-putting to most women.”
As I read this, in my head, I was saying, no, more like yelling “And GoDaddy’s marketing had a part in that!”
In school (I have a diploma in computer engineering technology) and in the work world amongst the software developers, I was certainly in the minority as a woman, and even more as a Caucasian woman. Sometimes it did feel like I had to prove myself more than my male counterparts. I caught myself on more than one occasion saying this (somewhat telling) phrase “See, I’m not just a pretty face.” when I had helped my male colleague find a solution to their problem.
Yes, Owning Up to Your Business’s Past Mistakes Can Make You the Hero
So, this guy Blake Irving definitely had my attention in this article, but then he also won back my business with this statement:
“My first act as CEO was to completely overhaul our brand and advertising—dropping the commercials that women clearly articulated to be objectifying and over-sexualized for a value prop that emphasizes the entrepreneurial spirit of our customers, many of whom are women. The old brand did not represent our passion for the success of our small business customers and sent a signal, wrongly, that GoDaddy was not a place that respected women.”
I’m glad that I could align my business investments with my beliefs – that’s one of the privileges of being in business for myself. And I’m hopeful when I see that the big corporations we little guys rely on can also align positive values and their bottom line.
Interesting to note, however, it took almost two years for the message to trickle down to me. Maybe its time for GoDaddy to create a Girl Power ad campaign?
In the meantime, if you’re looking for website hosting and want to support a women-owned company associated with a women-friendly corporation, check out our reseller page!