There are those who will still dare suggest that letting men be the sole provider at home is something that women should be grateful for. In her TEDx talk 24 Hours to Change the Gender Equity Reality, Mariela Dabbah, Founder and CEO of the Red Shoe Movement shares a stunning story.
It may be an archaic mindset, but one that former Mexican president, Vicente Fox, made while speaking to an audience he shared with Mariela, who had just made a presentation on creating workplaces that foster gender equity. So of course she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“I was in shock,” Mariela remembers during her talk. As a Latina immigrant who has spent the last thirty years not just building her own career and expanding her own horizons in the United States, but also finding ways in which she can help other women succeed in theirs, Mariela found the comment utterly inappropriate.
The Importance of Gender Equity
“This kind of thinking is what perpetuates the gender equity gap,” Mariela continues, pointing out that according to World Economic Forum estimations, it’d take 257 years to close this gap even before COVID-19 changed everything. Forcing us to take a few steps back.
While Mariela is all for celebrating small victories, like the 7% of women who are currently CEOs of Fortune 500 companies (a definite improvement from the 3% record ten years ago). It’s still not good enough. “That’s 37 women of 500 jobs and, you know what? There’s not one Black woman or one Latina woman on that list.” Completely unacceptable.
So, 10 years ago, she decided enough was enough.
Making Inequity Unfathomable
Mariela Dabbah believes that we can’t keep settling for these sporadic bursts in improvement every 10 or 20 years. “We cannot continue to be happy with this, to be content.” For this, she began looking for ways in which she can create more awareness within her company. “I was looking for something to push us towards a global leap of consciousness. A tipping point beyond which the levels of inequality we have right now would become unthinkable, unfathomable.”
She focused her research on seemingly unresolvable problems that found a simple overnight solution. “And that’s when I stumbled upon fatal medical errors.” Mariela found that the death rates that happened as a result of infections at hospitals were an intractable problem for the longest time. At least until the arrival of Dr. Peter Pronovost, known to many as “Dr. Checklist.”
“He created and implemented a simple checklist for medical personnel to go over before introducing intravenous lines in the ICU, one of the top places where infections start.” Within 10 days, the error percentage dropped from 11% to zero.
Check out this post on Mariela Dabbah's TEDx talk about the Inequity Vaccine
Red Shoe Tuesdays’ Wave of Gender Equity
“So, I created my own version of the checklist: A day of the week when we all talk about and create concrete actions around gender equity – until we move the needle once and for all.” The Red Shoe Movement, after all, offered the perfect platform to develop this idea. Thus, Red Shoe Tuesdays was born.
Established in 2012, Red Shoe Tuesdays launched an invitation for people to wear red shoes, socks, and accessories to work as a sign of allyship and an encouragement to take part in these important conversations. “When you have a wave of red coming into your organizations it helps you normalize this conversation on gender equity every week,” Mariela explains. “In other words: 24 hours to change the gender equity reality.”
How does it work? Well, the more associates in your organization who show up with red accessories, the tougher it’ll be for the “top brass” to avoid engaging with this conversation. “It’s a wave that becomes contagious and elicits such level of motivation on both men and women that it helps create this global leap of consciousness.”
The 7 Principles of Red Shoe Tuesdays
The secret, Mariela tells us, “is not just that Red Shoe Tuesdays are a fun enjoyable way to engage on the topic that frequently makes people uncomfortable.” The secret lies within 7 simple principles that change the culture of an organization “pretty quickly” once they’ve been implemented.
These principles are:
1Mentor younger or less experienced women
2Offer opportunities to women who are eager to learn
3Provide honest feedback to women in your network and avoid hurtful comments or unnecessary criticism
4Cultivate the relationship with women on your team
5Celebrate the accomplishments of women publicly
6Refrain from badmouthing women and a
7Avoid using labels that contribute to stereotyping women
“Being an active part of this pushing for a global leap of consciousness is what makes all the difference. Because we all have an active role to play in changing the policies and procedures that have fostered the current gender inequalities. This is a joint movement, one in which men and women work side by side.”
Gender Equity Shall Make Us Free
That day, Mariela Dabbah told former Mexican president Vicente Fox that gender equity will make it possible for everyone to choose what it is they want to do. Making it possible for us to brush gender-based expectations of who should be the provider aside. “When we reach gender parity, gender equity, all of us will be able to study whatever we want, go as far as we want in our jobs, and play whatever role we want to play at home.”
What would you do? Will you join us and help us take this leap of consciousness to reach gender equity once and for all?
Aline Cerdan Verástegui
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