Ring the Bell on The 7 Seas Shows Their Support for Gender Equality

For the first time ever, people around the world will signal their support for gender equality while navigating our planet’s beautiful oceans. Don’t miss this inspiring initiative!

Echoing the “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality,” on March 8, 2018 we rolled out the “Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas,” a Red Shoe Movement Gender Equality global initiative with Celebrity Cruises. (Another amazing initiative, this month we rolled out our 2018 Hall of Fame and our new Red Shoe Leader Award!) We are beyond excited to have celebrated this International Women’s Day across the world’s oceans with people from the most diverse cultures!

View of Ring the Bell on 7 Seas- Supporting Gender Equality

View of Ring the Bell on 7 Seas onboard the Celebrity Summit- Supporting Gender Equality

UPDATE: Our Global Gender Equality Initiative Takes Off! A Day to Remember

We couldn’t have dreamed with a more perfect day to launch the “Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas,” a Red Shoe Movement Gender Equality global initiative. It was 60 F with bright blue skies in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The only uninvited guest was the wind. And yet, nothing would’ve been the same without it.

Our CEO, Mariela Dabbah, our Head of Communications, Gustavo Carvajal and our social media team and photographer boarded the Celebrity Summit to find the entire crew — from the kitchen staff to the captain of the ship— dressed with red shoes, ties, scarfs, and ribbons to honor our mission and our #RedShoeTuesday campaign.

Waitstaff welcomed us onboard with red drinks

Waitstaff welcomed us onboard with red drinks

As we walked down the side of the ship to the top deck a line of wait staff welcomed us with red cocktails and roses while the DJ blasted a playlist of female singers through the speakers. In no time the deck was filled with around 200 crewmembers, Celebrity Cruises’ executives including their CEO, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, media and guests. We all stood behind the beautiful red podium holding The Bell.

Lisa Lutoff Perlo reads Ring the Bell manifesto

Lisa Lutoff Perlo reads Ring the Bell manifesto

Mariela framed the occasion by sharing how the ceremony was echoing the Ring the Bell for Gender Equality being held in 63 stock exchanges around the world. She invited everyone to ring their own personal bells at home. But of course it was hard to pretend this was a normal speech. As she talked, the wind took over her hair and it pretty much looked like she’d fly away any minute.

Then Lisa, underscore how fitting it was to Ring the Bell in such a windy day when we were all feeling the winds of change. She read the event’s Manifesto while Captain Theocharis Charalampos and a bridge officer had to hold down The New Leader Times so it wouldn’t be blown off to the sea.

Mariela Dabbah with Celebrity Crew after Ring the Bell

Mariela Dabbah with Celebrity Crew after Ring the Bell

While the formalities were dispensed with, the party really started. People truly celebrated the occasion. We took pictures with a beautiful member of the entertainment team who wore a long red dress several feet long, which became the perfect live background, constantly morphing with every gust of wind.  The icing on the cake of this perfect event was a luxurious lunch onboard!

Lisa Lutoff Perlo and Mariela Dabbah after rining the bell

Lisa Lutoff Perlo and Mariela Dabbah after rining the bell

Ringing the Bell for Gender Equality Again and Again

Throughout the day, we received pictures, videos and Boomerangs from all over the world. The most amazing images bore witness of how far the initiative had traveled and how much people had engaged with it. Adding red balloons, and dressing up with their best red outfits for evening parties!

We’ll soon share the recap video here!!

Can’t wait to see how we top this celebration next year. But you know we will!


Ring The Bell on the 7 Seas | Support for Gender Equality

Ring The Bell on the 7 Seas

What is the Ring the Bell for Gender Equality?

Carried out by UN Women, the Sustainable Stock Exchanges, IFC, Women in ETFs and the World Federation of Exchanges, the “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” ceremony “raises awareness of the pivotal role that the private sector plays in advancing gender equality to achieve SDG 5.” (United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.)

For the third year in a row, on March 8, International Women’s Day, (or very close to that day) women ring the bell at stock exchanges around the world. This initiative was launched in 2016 and it has been adding new participating countries every year. In 2017, the Argentina Chapter of the Red Shoe Movement brought the Ring the Bell to that country. Our team rang the bell alongside Argentina’s Vice-President, Gabriela Michetti. (And we are proud to say that we were the #1 contributor on Twitter to the conversation generated by this amazing occasion under #GenderBell used in conjunction with the initiative.)

The Red Shoe Movement Argentina Chapter, Rings the Bell for Gender Equality with the country's vice president Gabriela Michetti in 2017

The Red Shoe Movement Argentina Chapter, Rings the Bell for Gender Equality with the country’s vice president Gabriela Michetti in 2017

What is the “Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas,” a Red Shoe Movement Gender Equality initiative

As we continue to find ways to amplify our mission and awaken the global community to reach a leap of consciousness in gender equality, we created the “Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas.” An initiative that would expand not only the message of the Ring the Bell for Gender Equality, but that also intents to echo the proverbial school bells welcoming girls everywhere. Particularly in those countries where girls education is not yet a reality. It’s our way of enabling the inspiring sound of bells to reverberate across the planet from sea to shining sea.

Sailing toward gender equality!

The “Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas” is a symbol of a world joined by oceans and by travel. An experience that opens our minds. Helps us see new perspectives, different cultures, and ways in which people live and do things. Hopefully, an experience that leads us to understanding that we every human being deserve equal treatment and respect.

Sailing towards gender equality


What happens during the “Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas”?

On March 8, 2018, all of Celebrity Cruises ships will host a ceremony onboard for passengers and crew. Everyone will wear red shoes, ties and accessories in support of the Red Shoe Movement’s mission —to accelerate representation of women in decision-making positions— and our ongoing #RedShoeTuesday campaign.

Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas with Lisa Lutoff-Perlo

Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas with Lisa Lutoff-Perlo

The captain will read a message from Celebrity Cruises’ CEO, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, one of our 2017 Hall of Fame honorees and keynote guest at our 2017 Signature Event.

Then each captain will ring the bell to echo the bells ringing across the globe both on the water and on land to raise awareness of the importance of gender equality, of equal pay for equal work, and of shared power. And then, from the Caribbean, to the Arabian Sea, and from the Indian Ocean to the Tasman Sea, each ship will blow its horn. A similar ceremony will take place at Celebrity Cruises offices around the world.

Let this be a unifying moment when we all raise our glasses to toast to a new era of gender equality. An era of fresh, new leadership with innovative ideas that bring answers to 21st Century challenges. A leadership that is inclusive of everyone. Join us on social media #GenderBell #IWDleader #IWD2018.

The wind is at our back. Let the journey begin!

3 Reasons to Sign up for More Business Trips

Business trips may not be as glamorous as you imagine, but they offer a great chance to network with colleagues and vendors from other areas and to help you develop some critical skills. Read on and you’ll be signing up for the next business trip before you finish this post!

The impact of business trips on professional development

Business trips are on the rise, especially among Millenials. While most people take 6.8 business trips a year, Millenials take 7.4 trips and plan to increase their travels. This is according to a study conducted in 2016 by MMGY Global among 1,007 U.S. residents who took at least one domestic or international business trip in the previous 12 months.

What’s driving the desire to travel more for work? For some, it’s the perception that business trips are just an all-expense paid trip for a couple of meetings, leaving ample time for sightseeing. The reality, however, is that most business trips are filled with meetings leaving you with little personal time. But the true value of a business trip goes beyond the immediate perks and it’s much longer lasting than a day tour of the city you are visiting.

Business trips increase cultural intelligence

Business trips increase cultural intelligence

1Business trips help to increase your cultural intelligence, particularly international ones

Cultural intelligence means having the ability to recognize and respond to cultural diversity and to make better decisions based on that understanding. My experience in traveling globally and domestically for work has raised my cultural intelligence and ability to connect with people. It will do the same for you, regardless of the number of trips you take each year.

Think about the business trips you have taken and make a note of what you recall were the differences and similarities of the intercultural exchange. Keep in mind intercultural exchange does not only happen when you travel abroad. It also applies to when you travel domestically. It’s very likely that the vibe, energy and culture of your office in LA is very different than the ones in your office in Dallas or New York.

Possessing cultural intelligence today is more important than ever as globalization has made companies more complex and competitive. So make the most out of your business trips by increasing your cultural EQ. Employees who have a high level of cultural intelligence play an important role in bridging divides and knowledge gaps in an organization: educating their peers about different cultures.

Taking a business trip on your own can build your confidence.

Taking a business trip on your own can build your confidence.

2Traveling for work will help you breakout of your comfort zone

Business trips will help you break you out of your comfort zone, leading to personal and professional growth. When you travel for work, for the most part you will be traveling alone and navigating through a new city or country on your own. That means, learning to use a public transportation system, figuring out certain customs, perhaps learning a few words in a different language, and a million other little details that have likely become second nature to you at home. Having to manage these new experiences on your own may be hard at first but they’ll make you stronger. So regardless of where you travel or how long the business trip is, the experience will leave you feeling more confident.

On the other hand, you will also be representing your company and team, so you have to present the best version of you. Which means that you’ll do your best not to appear insecure, or tentative in this new environment. Even keeping your composure in a new circumstance will build your character and stretch you out of your comfort zone.

Business trip inspirational quote

Business trip inspirational quote

3Business trips lead to stronger working relationships

Every business trip that I’ve taken has led to improved working relationships with old and new colleagues. It’s an opportunity to nurture relationships with business partners (suppliers, clients, etc.) or colleagues you’re traveling with. It’s a particularly good chance to have some face time with partners with whom you collaborate remotely to fine tune any challenges you’re confronted with when working in different locations.

As you prepare for your business trip set up time to connect with your partners outside of business meetings. For example, schedule coffee, lunch or dinner, if possible. A former boss gave me the best piece of advice, “Teresa, during your next business trip your days need to be spent having face time with local suppliers, insight partners, and marketing partners.” She was completely right and taking her approach helped me establish strong relationships. I still keep in touch with some of the former business partners in other countries and we don’t even work in the same company any more!

Each business trip is an opportunity to gain cultural intelligence, to break out out of your comfort zone and to nurture relationships within your business ecosystem. To make sure you take advantage of all that a business trip has to offer you must do your part. This means, you must go beyond making logistic preparations for your trip and being present at the scheduled meetings. You should go with an open mind, ready to listen to people who might be very different from those in your own office, and seek to learn from everyone you meet.

Women traveling alone: 5 Tips from many years of traveling solo

In the last few years, there’s been a substantial increase of women traveling alone. It’s one of the most empowering experiences you can have. Ready to try it? Don’t miss these tips to make it a successful trip.

“The world is your oyster,” is an often quoted Shakespeare’s phrase. At some point, I’m sure someone said this to you. And if nobody ever did, I’m saying it to you now. The World Is Your Oyster. Yours for the taking. And this is the perfect time to explore that world.

I’ve been traveling solo for many, many years now and I absolutely love it. I recommend it to all my friends and colleagues and some of those who take my advice, become part of this large movement of women traveling alone.

In Amsterdam, while traveling solo doing a home exchange, I visited beautiful tulip fields.

In Amsterdam, while traveling solo doing a home exchange, I visited beautiful tulip fields.

It’s an experience unlike any other because first, you get to decide your destination and the kind of adventure you’d like to have. And then while you’re on the trip, you make every single decision throughout the day. There’s nobody to ask permission to do something you’d love to do. No need to go to places or engage in activities you don’t enjoy. So, you can get up early to join the hot air balloon tour or stay in bed all day.

You can spend the entire day visiting a museum or taking pictures of your favorite locations. You can eat when you want, what you want with whom you want. It’s your trip and you can even cry if you want to.

And if you’re horrified by the idea of making hundreds of decisions every day rather than letting someone else (perhaps your partner) make them for you… then, you my friend, really, really need to try this.

Here's a great read on Lateral Thinking to help you see issues from new perspectives
While traveling solo, I love to visit farmers markets and flower markets. You may find produce you've never seen before!

While traveling solo, I love to visit farmers markets and flower markets. You may find produce you’ve never seen before!

Women traveling alone discover who they are

It’s not an exaggeration to say that women traveling alone discover who they are and what they like. In some cases, even what they want to be when they grow up! Believe me I’ve met a few. It’s such a freeing experience to be on your own when most of the time we tend take care of the needs of others, whether our family, friends or colleagues.

To take a break of it all and go off somewhere alone near or far can be enlightening. And I emphasize near or far because you can have this experience by taking a bus and going one or two hours away from home to a location of your choosing for a short or a long trip. You can decide based on your budget what works best for you right now.

Tip for women traveling alone: Take a boat ride wherever you get a chance. It gives you an entirely different perspective of the place.

Tip for women traveling alone: Take a boat ride wherever you get a chance. It gives you an entirely different perspective of the place.

Some of the things I love to do when traveling solo

  • Staying at my own apartment or renting a bedroom in a woman’s house. I’ve been traveling with Airbnb before it was fashionable to do so. Sometimes I rather stay at someone’s house so I have a hostess who I can interact with and can give me tips of the area. I’ve become close friends with several of them.
  • Doing experiences with Airbnb. So now you can actually sign up to do a lot of things through their website. From learning how to cook, to having your own photo shoot, to visiting galleries with an artist. It’s another great way to meet like-minded people from all over the world, many of whom are precisely women traveling alone.
  • Talking to people who work wherever I go: hotels, restaurants, shops, galleries, taxi drivers. They have the real stories and insights of the place.
  • Starting my visit by seeing the city or town from the highest point, be that a church tower, the top of the highest building or hill. It gives me a great perspective of the lay of the land.
  • Visiting museums one or two hours at a time. I rather return to a museum than stay for a very long time in one.
  • Taking a boat trip whenever there’s water!
  • Discovering local food and learning how to make it. Going back to the same little bistro time and again so it feels like home. Here’s my favorite bistro that makes galettes from Britany in Paris!
  • Finding the best espresso drinks!
  • Learning to use the local public transportation system.
  • Sending postcards to friends and to myself. (Yep, I send postcards to myself from every place I visit so I can read them later and relive the best parts of the trip!)
    Drinking cappuccinos is one of my favorite things to do when traveling solo. I love to enjoy a cup while I write a postcard to a friend.

    Drinking cappuccinos is one of my favorite things to do when traveling solo.


    I love to enjoy a cup of espresso while I write a postcard to a friend.

Perhaps you should try a cruise ship with Captain Kate as a starter trip!

For women traveling alone being safe is key to enjoying the experience

Usually a big concern for women traveling alone is safety. And although this is true for anyone traveling solo, I have a few suggestions that work particularly well for my gender peers. Here you go:

1Keep your eyes on the road

This means, avoid being on your phone while you walk. Those who target women traveling alone are experts at pinpointing who’s a tourist, who’s confident, who is inexperienced. So by staying alert and present, you can spot them before they spot you. For this to work, you need to do your homework before you leave your hotel or apartment. Otherwise, when you need to spend a few minutes with your map or notes, just grab a cup of coffee to plan your next stop rather than walking around looking clueless. That way you know as much as possible about your direction, the train you should take, etc.

Tip for women traveling alone: nothing beats walking a town or city to get to know it really well. This is Nyhavn in Copenhagen

Tip for women traveling alone: nothing beats walking a town or city to get to know it really well. This is Nyhavn in Copenhagen.

2Check who’s in front of you

I’ve seen it happen many times. The person intent on robbing me is not behind me but in front. I suddenly realize they walk very slowly and turn their head sideways once in a while. When I stop walking, they stop. That’s my sign to either turn around and go back, look for another person to engage with immediately, or go into a store. You can always test this. If you stop and the person in front of you stops, slows down or pretends to be on the phone to make time until you start walking again, it’s a trap.

Since I discovered galettes (crepes made with buckwheat) I've become obsessed with repeating a particular flavor combination I love! The best place yet? "La petit bretonne" in Paris!

Since I discovered galettes (crepes made with buckwheat) I’ve become obsessed with repeating a particular flavor combination I love! The best place yet? “La petit bretonne” in Paris!

3Distribute your money and valuables

I carry a small, light backpack when I travel solo. In the backpack I’ll put in any accessories I might need. Umbrella, gloves, lipstick, sanitizer, etc. I put anything of value in my front pockets. Money, ID, keys, phone… I always assume that I may get mugged. Look, when you’re a tourist, you will be in areas known for pickpockets. So try to protect yourself as best as you can.

4When in doubt ask a woman

This one may sound obvious but it’s worth keeping in mind. Wherever I go, I ask a million questions a day. For many reasons: I need directions, I want a recommendation for a good place to eat nearby, I’d like to know where I can buy something, you get the point.  But no matter how many times a day I need help, I’ll either go into a store, or I’ll ask a woman in the street. Why? Because it’s less likely that she’ll turn me into a mark when she realizes I’m a tourist.

Keep your eyes on the road. Be present. When traveling solo, it's not only the best way to enjoy the trip but the safest!

Keep your eyes on the road. Be present. When traveling solo, it’s not only the best way to enjoy the trip but the safest!

5Don’t fall for these two (or any others!)

You’re sitting at a bench and someone bends over in front of you. Pretending to pick something off the floor they give you a “gold” ring. “You dropped this,” they say. And you look at the ring and you say, “No, it’s not mine.” So then they try it on and they tell you it doesn’t fit them but they are sure it will fit you, and you should keep it. You try it on, it fits, and you can’t believe your good luck. Until they say: “Well, maybe you could give me an euro,” or a dollar, or whatever. Just get up and leave. It’s an old trick and I did fall for it a while back.

You’re in a touristy area and a person pretending to be deaf and mute approaches you with a paper to sign some kind of petition. It’s a list of people’s names and signatures and you read the title and you think, “What’s the harm?” You sign and then they show you a little corner of the paper where they wrote: “Minimum donation X” and you know you’ve been had. So at that point you can leave.

Or, if you’re a sucker like me, you give them the minimum donation and swear this is the last time they’ll get you. You, a New Yorker raised in Buenos Aires!

There’s no time like today to discover the world and a little bit about yourself in the process. Try it. I promise that traveling solo will put you in touch with a side of you that will amaze you!

Switching Industries: A Personal Story on How to Do it Successfully

Are you thinking of switching industries but are afraid it may mean, “starting over”? Think again! I did it and it gave a great boost to my career! Read on!

Switching industries is among the reasons why 34% of LinkedIn users, globally, make changes in their careers, according to a 2015 global survey by LinkedIn.  Not too long ago I was among this cohort of people who wanted to switch industries.

Think of the process of switching industries as the process of researching for a major purchase

Think of the process of switching industries as the process of researching for a major purchase

Before switching industries, I worked in beauty

I spent ten years working in beauty before I made an industry switch to pharma. First, I started with a marketing consulting job within advanced analytics in which I measured the payback of marketing dollars spent on fine fragrances. Less than two years later, I was recruited by Avon as one of the first associates to join their newly established market research function.

The majority of my beauty career was at Avon, where I spent eight years, which is unheard of for anyone considered a “millennial,” even an older millennial like myself. Within those eight years I didn’t switch industries (or companies for that matter,) because I realized Avon was fertile ground for me to gain the skills needed to be competitive in the marketplace. I had the chance to learn from colleagues with backgrounds that spread across all kinds of industries, from food and beverage, beauty, consumer goods, and so on, who came from much revered organizations such as Kraft, P&G, Unilever, and Pepsi.

I had the opportunity to work on whitespace projects for marketing, global advertising, be the co-Chair of Avon’s Latino Network, travel globally and domestically. My clock started ticking at the eight year mark, so I continued my career at another beauty company, Coty, Inc.

After ten years in the beauty industry my clock started clicking. I needed to change industries to grow.

After ten years in the beauty industry my clock started clicking. I needed to change industries to grow.

I received very positive reviews during my time at Coty. So once I proved to myself I could succeed there, I started thinking about how to strengthen my career and stretch myself beyond my experience in research and beauty. I took a closer look at the senior executives around me, and those with whom I had worked with at Avon and I noticed a common thread. They all had very diverse backgrounds. There was not a single executive who had spent their entire career in one industry, one market, or one function.

I suddenly had a major aha moment: I needed to think about switching industries.

I decided to explore opportunities and came across a post for “Healthy Appearance” at Pfizer. The role focused on the functional skills of Consumer Insight professionals and noted skin care experience preferred. A few days after submitting my application and resume through Pfizer’s portal, I received an email from Human Resources which kicked-off a series of interviews.

Here's a great post on interview tips for when that time comes!
There a several aspects to consider before switching industries

There a several aspects to consider before switching industries

Key steps to switching industries 

1Before you switch industries, start with doing your research.

Think about how you would approach a major purchase such as a car. When we are in the market for a new car we typically research certain brands. Our exploration consists of extensive online searches, discussions with close friends and probing our extended network on social media. When you consider switching industries you should apply the same approach. Define what industries you’d like to explore and seek information around:

  • What’s going on in the industry? Get information such as, market share or ranking of the top competitors, the trends within the industry and how companies are responding. Dig deeper to understand what’s working well for the company and what have they identified as areas of opportunity. A good source for this is a company’s annual and quarterly earnings reports. This is public information.
  • Once you have identified the companies you’d like to apply for, look into their philosophy on talent development. A key signal that helped me determine whether a company fostered development of their associates was whether they had an Employee Resource Groups (ERG.) Keep in mind Fortune 500 companies may have ERGs/BRGs, but this might be less common in small to mid-size companies.  In this case, lean on online reviews and conversations with people in the network to get a sense of their talent development policies.
  • Use LinkedIn to browse through the profile of people who share your job function and role within the industry you want to change to. We often think switching to a new industry will require starting at a lower position. While this varies by industry, you will likely find out that you and your counterparts in other industries share a large skillset. Also, keep in mind, companies sometimes want an ‘outsider’ who can bring fresh ideas and new ways of doing things.
As with all major things in life, expanding your network can be very useful when you think of changing industries

As with all major things in life, expanding your network can be very useful when you think of changing industries

2Stepping out of your comfort zone to make connections is part of the process of switching industries

  • LinkedIn should be the top app in your phone during this process. The goal is to identify people who are currently employed or formerly employed by companies within your industry of interest. If your connections are limited then begin exploring 2nd and 3rd level connections on LinkedIn and see if a mutual contact can introduce you. If you have zero degrees of connections then upgrade to LinkedIn’s premium package so you can message the professionals you’re interested in reaching. In your initial message briefly introduce yourself, and kindly ask for 10-15 minutes of their time to get their perspective on the industry. Let them know you are considering opportunities in their industry and/or their company. You may have to follow-up a few times before you hear back. If this happens, don’t get discouraged. Also, take a look at the organizations that your industry of interest is associated with or supports. Perhaps there are events you can attend to make connections.
  • When I applied to Pfizer, I immediately began to search within my network and expanded network to identify people to talk to. During this process I remembered that two years before I was connected to someone in pharma via email by a mutual acquaintance. Back then, the individual wanted feedback from me on a research project she was leading. She was looking for diversity of thinking from several industries to maximize her initiative. I was on her list! Fast forward two years, I remembered this occasion and wrote to her a brief note reminding her of our past exchange and voilà! I had a new contact who could give me industry insights.
  • At this stage of the process, keep in mind that the purpose is not for the individuals you connect with to get you a job, (though that could be a very nice outcome!) The purpose of this process is for you to get context about the industry and to get sense of the industry language. As you may know, there are nuances to each industry. The more you speak the industry lingo, the more likely it is that others will see you as a good fit.
Expanding your network to include men, is critical for career growth
Get context and insights on the industry you're considering to change to

Get context and insights on the industry you’re considering to change to

3Put it all together and re-frame your resume to better position yourself for the new industry

Now that you have taken the time to understand the industry you want to switch to, take a moment to determine what all of the information means for you. What changes, if any, do you need to make to your resume and on your LinkedIn profile to better position yourself?

Take stock of your skills and identify which ones are transferrable to the roles you are interested in. Amplify the skills that are foundational to your role and provide examples of how you used them to impact the business. Each function (i.e. marketing, accounting, finance, etc.) has skills that are considered fundamental. These fundamental skills do not change industry to industry and they are transferable.

For example, in the world of market research a foundational skill is the ability to synthesize custom and syndicated data. So, in my resume I provided concrete examples on how I did this globally and regionally to drive business impact. Just like these, you can easily transfer skills such as ability to influence, communicate, and problem solve. They are the cornerstones of any position.

The thought of switching industries may seem daunting. I will admit doing the work upfront to be better positioned for a new industry takes time and can be a challenging process. But look, if you’re ready to turbo charge your career and you’re ready to explore changing industries, I say go for it wholeheartedly. It took me several rounds of interviews and at the end, I was hired! And now that I’m involved with Advil, the global best-selling over-the-counter pain medication, I can honestly tell you it was worth every minute of preparation.


Sexual Harassment: A Companion Guide for Millennials

A few of my high-power girlfriends came over for dinner recently and by the end of the night we shared stories of sexual harassment in the workplace.

The question that led me to this post was: How do we prepare the next generation to protect themselves against it? Here are a few answers.

This is an unprecedented time. Not a day goes by without another top executive, celebrity, or powerful man being fired for allegations of sexual harassment. Yet, we all know this is just the tip of the iceberg. In a very large number of workplaces across the world, very regular people commit the same kinds of acts and don’t make it to the front pages of the New York Times or even to social media through the #metoo hashtag. And for each one of those cases that has not seen the light, there are victims, often women, who suffer in silence. Who think there’s nothing they can do because they’ll lose their jobs or their promotions if they make a sexual harassment complaint.

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC First Part

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC First Part

Definition of Sexual Harassment

First and foremost, let’s clarify what’s sexual harassment. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):

“It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.

Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.”

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC Second Part

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC Second Part

A guide to sexual harassment for the new generation

You may have recently graduated or in the workforce for a few, short years. You may be thrilled to have a job and do what you like. How do you distinguish between teasing and sexual harassment? When does teasing become inappropriate behavior and how do you deal with it? Because, although the law is on your side, we all know that few things are simple. And if the person making you feel uncomfortable has the power to fire you, or get you fired, you’ll likely think twice before filing a formal complaint.

Here are some of the things that go on in most workplaces and that are usually okay

1Harmless teasing. Generally accepted by all employees as being well intentioned and light that doesn’t repeatedly offend someone, or a specific group.

2People commenting to each other how great they look. As long as the comments are intended as a nicety and have no sexual undertone.

3Depending on the culture of the individual, there may be a bit more touching while people speak. For example, Latinos are known for being a more “touching” culture. So as people talk, they’ll touch your arm to make a point, for instance.


Here are some of the behaviors that cross the line and would constitute sexual harassment

1Telling you how hot you are, or how hot you look in this or that outfit, or bending over to pick up something on the floor.

2Insinuations that if you were willing to do certain things for this person you’d be promoted or given special treatment, privileges, etc. (quid pro quo.)

3Open threats that if you don’t do some sexual favor you won’t get Y. Or worse, that you’d be fired.

4Someone exposing their genitals or masturbating in front of you.

5Insistent invitations to “go home” with someone after a professional function once you’ve turned them down. Or, such an invitation from a superior when there’s no mutual interest or consent.

6Insinuations that other women have accepted to do certain things in lieu of getting opportunities and because you don’t do the same, you’re being left behind.

7Inappropriate touch. Meaning, touching that makes you feel uncomfortable. This doesn’t necessarily have to come from your direct supervisor. It still constitutes sexual harassment if this unwanted touches come from a supervisor from a different area, a colleague, a client or someone you have to work with who doesn’t work in your own company.

8Ongoing sexual jokes that make for a hostile work environment.

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC Third Part

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC Third Part

How to Deal with Sexual Harassment in Real Life

You probably don’t work in Hollywood or in a large media company dealing with a celebrity. You’re just dealing with your colleagues and bosses in the place where you work day in and day out. So how do you distinguish whether what’s happening to you are normal, everyday interactions at work or sexual harassment? How do you stop it without losing your job despite having the law on your side?

Signs to look for

  • Repeated behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • Others experience similar behavior from the same person. (But remember that you may be the only target of the inappropriate behavior, so don’t rule it out because nobody else seems to be experiencing the same.)
  • Sexual jokes are made at your expense privately to you, or in front of others.
  • The person implicitly or explicitly threatens your career or your job at your organization.
  • You feel unsafe at work.
  • Your promotions are stalled because you haven’t accepted open or implicit advances.

What to Do

  • Record in writing with as many details as you can, every situation of sexual harassment you are a target of or that you witness in your workplace.
  • If possible, talk to the perpetrator and make it clear that the behavior is inappropriate and unacceptable.
  • If the perpetrator is not your supervisor but it is part of your team, speak to your supervisor.
  • If you can’t talk to the perpetrator, and /or to your supervisor, approach your HR team and file a formal complaint. Ask for the employee manual and review the policies there. You might find additional steps that you can take.
  • File a complaint with the EEOC. Depending of where you work, you have 180 or 300 days from the time of the sexual harassment took place to file a complaint with the EEOC.
  • Talk to your friends about it. It’s important to have a support system, as being the target of inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace can be very stressful and impact your self-esteem.

The alcohol effect

It’s a fact. Alcohol has the effect of loosening inhibitions. The amount of alcohol someone consumes before crossing the line of becoming inappropriate or abusive depends on many factors: your biology and your temperament, among others. What’s important to notice is that sometimes, people who are drunk (slightly or completely) may behave in very inappropriate and even criminal ways. Whether they realize it or not, it’s a different story. So two recommendations here: If you are on the receiving end of a drunk perpetrator who harasses you, the behavior still constitutes sexual harassment. And if you are the one drinking in a work-related function, be aware that you may become inappropriate with others without you even noticing. This behavior may affect your personal brand and future opportunities at a minimum and have legal consequences at worst.

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC Fourth Part

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC Fourth Part

One poignant sexual harassment story

I will keep real identities and employers out of this post and the next one that I will write with your stories on sexual harassment, to protect those who haven’t come out with them. The names below have all been changed.

Mary’s Situation

Many years ago, when she was twenty something, Mary worked at XYZ TV. At a company party, one night, Joe, the Media Director of their Biggest Client’s Media Agency (and the Biggest Client’s Account Executive,) came up to Mary. He opened the V-neck of her dress and peered inside while making a comment: “Just making sure everything’s in order.” This was done in front of a group of mainly women, all of which stared at Mary waiting for her response. Horrified and terrified, Mary froze and couldn’t say or do anything.

How she dealt with the sexual harassment situation

Mary brought up the issue to her boss and to the President of XYZ TV. The answer she got from both men was: “Sorry, Mary. Joe’s a big executive at our Media Agency. He leads our Biggest Client account and we can’t do anything about it.”

Frustrated, Mary called Jackie, a woman she had met once before at the Biggest Client. She was the head of marketing. When Mary told her the story, Jackie knew immediately it was true. Not only did she believe Mary’s sexual harassment allegation, but she had also heard other women complain of Joe’s behavior before. Jackie went to her HR department and told them she wanted Joe fired as their Account Executive. A few days later, the CEO of Biggest Client’s Media Agency (the company for which Joe worked) called Jackie. And here’s how Jackie easily convinced him to fire Joe. “Look Mr. CEO, this is bad business for you. We don’t want to be connected to a company that makes our colleagues feel unsafe. And you really don’t want to face a lawsuit by an employee at one of your Biggest Clients or at one of our media partners.” Joe was fired.

Summing it up

It’s often hard to talk or react at the moment when sexual harassment is taking place. It can be a paralyzing or embarrassing situation where you may freeze as Mary did. What’s important is that you don’t let it slide. That you don’t feel that you did something wrong. Mary was the victim in this situation, but she didn’t remain as a passive recipient of this inappropriate and illegal behavior. She took action and kept at it until the perpetrator was fired.

She spoke the day after it happened with her boss. When she didn’t find the answer she was looking for, Mary tapped her network. She built rapport with a woman who worked with one of the interested parties. In this case, it was not even the company where the perpetrator worked. Jackie knew the best way to get this taken care of quickly was to build a business case. Unfortunate but true, many times this is what it takes to stop sexual harassment in the workplace. When people understand it’s bad for business, they tend to act faster.

Above all, avoid thinking that you’re being harassed because you’re too attractive or not attractive enough. That this is happening to you because you’re being punished for whatever reason. Or that you have to suffer in silence. Sexual harassment has nothing to do with your appearance and a lot to do with power. And most importantly, it’s a crime.

I’ll write a Part II with your own anonymous stories and how you dealt with them. The more we share, the quicker we’ll all learn how to make our workplaces safer for everyone. So please send your stories in! info@RedShoeMovement.com