The 3 Business Pillars to Creating an Inclusive, Sustainable Future

GoDaddy is charting a course for an improved company, community, and future. Here's how you can, too.
May 24, 2023 10:00 AM ET

Originally published on Entrepreneur


These days, business leaders are thinking about a lot more than generating revenue. They gauge success not only by profits but also by the culture within their business and its impact on the community.

This is where topics like inclusivity and sustainability take precedence. For many companies, inclusivity is about ensuring opportunity and empowerment are accessible to all employees. Meanwhile, sustainability efforts help ensure that what enables everyone to live well and succeed lasts for the long haul.

"Inclusivity and sustainability must be prioritized together when we want to create and sustain change for our employees, customers, and communities," explains Kristy Lilas, Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at GoDaddy, the company that helps entrepreneurs thrive.

GoDaddy recently released its 2022 Sustainability Report, highlighting the progress the company made toward inclusivity, sustainability, and much more.

"Organizations have a responsibility to make their employees feel empowered and supported, which is not only paramount to creating an inclusive culture, but also a necessary ingredient to drive innovation and develop the best products and services for customers," Lilas says. "For these reasons, at GoDaddy, we prioritize inclusivity and sustainability together as they are both at the core of our mission to make opportunity more inclusive for all, no matter a person's identity, background or circumstance."

Here are the three business pillars GoDaddy identified as most critical to creating an inclusive, sustainable future—and tips for how you can do the same at your organization or business.

1. Customers

GoDaddy aims to do more than just offer domain registry, website hosting, and commerce solutions. It positions itself as a company that "empowers entrepreneurs everywhere, making opportunity more inclusive for all." In its 2022 Sustainability Report, GoDaddy says it believes that "inclusive entrepreneurship helps fuel local economies globally, increases generational wealth, decreases wealth gaps, and ultimately improves lives."

Prioritizing inclusive entrepreneurship for GoDaddy means providing equitable resources that support and empower everyone, including entrepreneurs in and from underserved communities. Through its social impact program, Empower by GoDaddy, the company offers in-person and virtual educational workshops, technology tools, mentorship opportunities, and peer networks to thousands of small- and micro-business owners across the U.S., Europe, and Canada. In 2022, GoDaddy provided more than 9,700 learning engagements for entrepreneurs around the world through Empower by GoDaddy.

What you can do: Kami Hoskins, Director of Legal Operations and Training and Head of Corporate Sustainability & Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) at GoDaddy, recommends that businesses engage customers directly to find out what they need to succeed and offer meaningful solutions. For instance, GoDaddy launched Venture Forward, a multi-year research initiative that quantifies the impact of more than 20 million online U.S. microbusinesses on their local economies. Venture Forward research indicates that for every one microbusiness per 100 people in a community, two new jobs are created (not including the business owner). Further, for every additional microbusiness founded, the median household income in the immediate area rises $195 over a one-year period. GoDaddy uses insights like these to better serve its customers, including Empower by GoDaddy participants.

"When designing and building your offerings, it is particularly important to engage customers who are underserved and underrepresented," Hoskins says. "Otherwise, they may not be adequately supported, and you may miss valuable opportunities."

2. Employees

"Authentically serving a diverse customer base starts with cultivating a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workforce," GoDaddy says in its 2022 Sustainability Report. To do this, the company says it made a deliberate effort to recognize and reduce unconscious bias in its recruitment and employee practices and systems, including performance reviews and promotions.

Last year, GoDaddy said it achieved gender pay parity (global) for the eighth year in a row and ethnicity (in the U.S.) pay parity for the sixth year in a row. These findings were also included in the release of GoDaddy's 2022 Diversity and Pay Parity Annual Report.

GoDaddy additionally says that its employee resource groups (ERGs) play a critical part in fostering its culture of inclusivity. These are employee-led groups formed around common missions, identities, affinities, or interests. ERGs provide a space for employees to develop relationships, support professional development, engage in corporate projects and programs, learn from each other, and participate in fun activities, the company says.

What you can do: To get a fresh perspective and truly understand where your business can improve workplace culture, Lilas recommends partnering with and learning from a research-driven third party.

Through a partnership with Stanford University's VMware Women's Leadership Innovation Lab, GoDaddy learned in detail how traditional performance evaluations "often contain biases that hold women to a higher behavioral standard than men," Lilas says. "This led to us creating processes to remove ambiguity from both recruitment practices and performance reviews and ensuring that we assess both the work that people complete and how they complete it in alignment with our inclusive values. It also includes focusing on action and outcomes as opposed to style and personality, ensuring consistency in feedback, and requiring equal evaluation time."

3. Operations

How can we ensure the longevity of our business in the face of dynamic and shifting forces like climate change and social change?

That's the question GoDaddy's leadership team asks itself when setting its operational objectives and standards. The company takes a multi-pronged approach to accomplish goals related to corporate governance, social impact, and the environment.

"We know that global organizations like GoDaddy have a responsibility to protect the environment for future generations," Hoskins says. "For this reason, we're proud to have reduced GoDaddy's scope 1 and 2 emissions by 35% from a 2019 baseline. To achieve this result, we focused on decreasing the impact of our data center operations, as well as our workspaces, on the environment."

In 2022, the company also reduced its active global real estate footprint by approximately 105,000 square feet, thanks in part to a hybrid work model with reduced office requirements, according to the report.

What you can do: To achieve big environmental, social, and corporate goals, leadership needs a clear strategy, focused intention, and a plan for prioritization, Hoskins says. "This requires dialog and education among stakeholders across diverse aspects of the business," she says.

"I like to think that everyday consumers want to do business with companies they believe in and that are making a positive impact on the world," Hoskins adds. "We hope that part of the reason why our customers continue to come back to us and build businesses with us is because of our relentless commitment to sustainability and inclusivity."

Click here to learn more about GoDaddy and here to download GoDaddy's 2022 Sustainability Report.