Ep 76: Monica Bailey: Making GoDaddy the Company Where Everyone Wants to Work

Diversity Leadership Series

Diva Tech Talk was thrilled to interview Monica Bailey, Chief People Officer at GoDaddy (www.godaddy.com). With approximately 18 million global customers and over 8,000 employees worldwide, the 22-year old company is an indisputable market leader, as the largest ICANN-accredited domain registrar in the world, four times the size of its closest competitor. Monica came to her role at GoDaddy “having seen a lot of things I love about the technology industry and having seen a lot of things that I didn’t want to repeat.”

Monica, the daughter of a social worker mother and a residential builder father, was raised in what she described as a “rough and tumble fishing town” on the Washington State coast, populated by “amazing people” who “had to be as fierce as the ocean to survive there.”  She humbly acknowledged that some classmates and friends were “smarter than me” but did not have equal access to opportunities. Monica said: “I hustled as hard as I could,” applying for every scholarship for which she was remotely eligible. She graduated from Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow School of Communications with a double major in psychology and communications, and a special focus on women’s studies. Early in her career exploration, she knew “I wanted to help people; I wanted to make an impact” and “work in a company, helping people in that company --- speaking for them, and helping them.” Monica stays connected to her hometown for two decades of volunteerism on behalf of abused children, through a nonprofit called Camp Victory for Children.

Fate intervened in Monica’s landing her first job. Fortuitously armed with her resume, after graduation, she visited a friend, doing temporary work at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington. She spotted her third cousin in the building and importuned her to facilitate interviews. She was hired as a technical recruiter for Microsoft. “That’s when my journey in tech began, and I have spent my whole career there. I feel so fortunate. It’s a place where we don’t ponder for too long. We get to experiment, try things, iterate, and hopefully make change in the industry, and the world.” Her career at Microsoft spanned many roles including recruiter, recruiting team captain, senior human resources generalist working on Microsoft’s consumer internet group, manager of Microsoft’s merger and acquisitions, senior talent assessment manager supporting President/CEO succession and development planning, and also did a stint as HR partner for Microsoft’s Research arm.

Monica is a life-long champion of diversity, shaped by enlightening lessons from that 17-year Microsoft tenure.  She has the highest regard for Microsoft’s current CEO, with whom she had the chance to work on important projects, and who she acknowledges is a profound change agent.  Earlier, though, “I grew up in a work environment that was pretty internally competitive. I was fundamentally impacted by that system; but that system has now changed a lot. Having lived through that experience shapes your views on what you can strive for, in a company.”  

A few years back, Monica engaged in an exercise called “I BELIEVE IN…” where participants take 2 minutes and write down things in which they strongly believe.  In Monica’s case, she is adamant that “I believe there is enough pie for everyone. I don’t want to compete with folks. I don’t want my folks to compete with each other.”  In her industry, and company, “we are better together.” To that end, she encourages, and works toward, collaboration in all endeavors. Monica also has deep feelings about characteristics that comprise personal success. “That grit, that drive, that resilience” exemplified by some of her personal experiences “will ultimately make a difference in the world.”

Monica defined diversity as “having different perspectives around ‘the decision-making table.’ The more folks you bring around that table, from different backgrounds, different ethnicities, different socio-economic classes, the more holistic you get to be.”  She stressed that if you don’t have diversity, as an organization, you can “miss the market.” Her transformational work at GoDaddy has been propelled by a partnership with Stanford University’s 40-year old Clayman Institute, a nonprofit extension founded to inspire innovative solutions that advance gender equality. “We gave them unprecedented access to everything” she said, including wide-ranging employee surveys, various data cuts of the employee population, raw hiring data, redacted performance reviews, a seat to observe top-of-house talent review sessions,and much more.  After their in-depth review, “they said: you have two choices. You can continue to refine your hiring to reduce unconscious bias, similar to what many companies are working on. Or you can go for the ‘Holy Grail:’ career advancement for women, knowing that there is very little research in this area, at this point.”

Making the “Holy Grail” choice, GoDaddy’s first step was to revise their unique performance review process that encompasses both the “what” (targets, objectives, activity,) and the “how” of achieving goals.  “We want wonderful people doing wonderful work,” Monica said. “So, we had to reimagine the ‘how’ in order to strive for true diversity. The ‘how’ is how you exemplify our values; how you live them every day; how you help each other do great things for our customers.  We included ‘how do you introduce diversity and different perspectives ‘around the table’, in order to innovate.” Monica stressed that there has also been a robust effort to block unconscious bias in every human resources’ process as a result of the Clayman Institute counsel. “We just decided to build diversity into everything we did. Diversity is not siloed. It lives in every piece of work we do. The bummer is you’re never done!”  

GoDaddy is making great diversity progress.  “Our employees are super-clear about our culture and values. They come to GoDaddy because it is a really different culture --- hard-charging, yet collaborative. We overtly talk about it and more importantly, our people talk about it.” Monica said. “And we have record low attrition.”  She proudly pointed to a recent survey that shows that 89% of GoDaddy’s top individual contributors and leaders would recommend the company to others.

By following Clayman’s recommendations to break down all the company’s work into a simple, clearly accessible set of behaviors, “women and men have a statistically equal shot at top performance in the company.”  Monica is justifiably proud of GoDaddy’s pay parity goal attainment. “For the last four years since we started measuring pay parity, we pay a dollar for a dollar, women to men.” And, “last year, we were at 31% women in our most senior roles.”  She also cited the GoDaddy college campus intern program as a successful feeder to diversity, noting that in 2015, only 18% of the company’s entry-level engineers were women. But as a result of the intern program setting a goal of 40-50% female interns, the company moved to 42% entry level female engineers, by 2017.  Additionally, in 2018, 67% of incoming interns were ethnically diverse.

Monica has diversity-strengthening recommendations for other organizations:

  1. Creatively formulate what unique success looks like for your company, and then proactively act on that vision

  2. Examine performance by ethnicity, gender, and all other criteria, and evaluate whether the system is fair to ALL your people; if not, then experiment and try new approaches

  3. Use a tool to constantly survey and obtain deep feedback from your talent base, and aggressively make changes based on the data (Go Daddy has a consistent tool called “GoDaddy Voice”)

  4. Engage in systems like GoDaddy’s “promotion-flagging” to ensure that no one is forgotten (particularly women and minorities who may not normally “self-promote”) when it comes to promotion paths

Monica was emphatic about the positive return on investment that diversity represents for all companies. At GoDaddy “We believe that diversity creates better innovation, better products and services for our customers.”  Her mission at GoDaddy is “making the company we all want to work for!”

Monica can be reached through her LinkedIn profile: linkedin.com/in/monica-bailey-1a11462.

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Diva Tech Talk Team

Podcast Divas