We've all seen it: The clever job description asking if you're a "code ninja" or a "back-end Jedi." But what a lot of companies don't realize is that these terms might be turning women off--and contributing to the much-maligned tech gender gap.
That's why domain registry and hosting platform GoDaddy is going through company documents with a fine-tooth comb to rid them of gender-biased language, according to CEO Blake Irving. With the help of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, said Irving on Fortune's Unfiltered podcast this week, the company has been working to ensure that internal documents related to processes for hiring, promotion, and reviews in particular aren't alienating any employees.
This might be surprising coming from a company known for Super Bowl advertisements featuring scantily clad women, but GoDaddy hasn't aired those kinds of ads in four years. Irving says they were memorable and helped brand awareness reach almost 80 percent (high for a company with revenue under $2 billion at the time), but they alienated an important segment of his small-business customers--namely, women.
After taking the helm as CEO in 2013, one of the first things he did was change up GoDaddy's advertising strategy to show women in a more positive light, often as business owners.
After all, GoDaddy's main customers are small businesses, over half of which, Irving says, are run by women. "When we show folks what we're doing and whom we're doing it for," Irving says, referring to GoDaddy's advertising, "we want to show them in the light they deserve to be shown in."
Part of the reason Irving has made battling sexism a priority at GoDaddy is to carry on a legacy started by his sister Lori Irving. As a clinical psychologist and professor at Washington State University, she became an authoritative voice on eating disorders linked to media's negative effects on women's self-esteem.
Before she died at the age of 38, Irving says he'd promised her he'd do what he could within his field to forward her work. And as unlikely as it may have seemed after the 2013 Super Bowl ad featuring an excruciatingly long and close-up kiss between model Bar Refaeli and nerdy "Walter," GoDaddy turned out to be the place to do it.