Most people wake up every morning and go about their work. They don’t keep tabs on every milestone or accomplishment. But time flies and when you look back, you will be able to point at some key moments that have marked your journey.
That’s exactly what happened to us. While we were hard at work, keeping our eyes on the ball, the Red Shoe Movement turned 10 years – old. So, it’s time to take a break -albeit a very short one- to look back and share a few milestones along this journey.
It Started with “I”
The publication of the book Poder de Mujer: Descubre Quién Eres para Crear el Éxito a tu Medida / Find your Inner Red Shoes by Mariela Dabbah, laid the foundation of the Red Shoe Movement. The book talks about how by defining what success is for them, women can better align their aspirations with their career goals and thus, move farther faster. The cover illustration was a pair of red stilettos which signify “power with femininity.”
It Quickly Became “We” — Building A Community
👠2012- Launch of #RedShoeTuesday initiative and the Red Shoe Movement Community
Right away we launched the #RedShoeTuesday campaign— The day when we all wear red shoes to show support for women’s career advancement. Ever since that day, we’ve been building a community of people around the world who every week wears red shoes, socks, ties, and accessories to keep up the conversation to level the playing field, and to foster mutual support in the pursuit of women’s career goals has grown steadily. Every week we are surprised by people who unbeknownst to us have been celebrating alongside us for years.
👠2012- First group of Ambassadors is created
Right after the book was published, Teresa Correa, a young woman who at the time worked at Avon, contacted us to gain some insights on her next career move. She asked to meet with Mariela to pick her brain. She walked into the coffee shop wearing red shoes and with a very marked up copy of the Find Your Inner Red Shoes book. After they finished talking about her career Teresa said: “I’d like to be your brand Ambassador.” And although Mariela had no idea what that meant, she accepted Teresa’s offer. And from that day on, everywhere where Mariela did a workshop or a keynote, she invited those in the audience who were interested in joining the Ambassadors group to contact Teresa. Very soon she had a team that started meeting regularly at Avon. The second person to join was Annerys Rodriguez who worked (and still does) at MetLife. Teresa and Annerys are still very much part of our organization. This group has always been at the core of building a community of professionals who support each other for career success.
👠2013- First Red Shoe Movement Signature Event
After a few months of regular meetings, the Ambassador team informed Mariela that they thought there needed to be a Red Shoe Movement event. It was decided that we would create a very unique format where everyone would learn from each other. From the very beginning we designed our Mutual Mentoring Circles— conversations around a relevant topic where everyone could contribute. The first event was held at the New York Times and it was a total success. From the third event on, they were held at MetLife, our loyal sponsor for all these years.
👠2013- Landing in Latin America — Launch of the Red Shoe Movement on “Cala” on CNN
As Mariela did the media tour for her book, she got the chance to be on “Cala” an extremely popular evening interview show on CNN en Español, a program that many, many people in Latin America watched. That’s where she announced the 7 RSM Principles. A few months later, we were tagged on a Tweet by DELL Panama. It showed a tray of cupcakes with the RSM logo and pictures of women wearing red shoes during company meetings. “We support the RSM Principles” it read.
Because DELL had a large Women’s Employee Resource Group in Latin America, they started teaching their partners, other tech companies, about our principles and about the Red Shoe Movement’s mission to accelerate representation of women at the highest levels of decision-making.
👠2014- Arrival in Argentina
Partly as a result of all the media attention the book garnered, Alejandra Mastrangelo found us on Google when she was looking for information on women in corporate boards. Based in Argentina, co-founder of a program at the IAE Business School in that country, she met with Mariela during a trip to her native country and facilitated an interview with El Cronista Comercial, one of Argentina’s most respected newspapers, which landed on the back cover! She was instrumental in developing a group of local Ambassadors that spread our 7 RSM Principles and our #RedShoeTuesday campaign in the country and for building an incredibly powerful network of women who support each other for career success. They also developed the Inter-Company Mutual Mentoring Circles which rotated in various companies. Part of the local team of Ambassadors included: Lorena Martin, Gladys Benaim, Agostina Verni, Betina Bensignor, and Maria Eugenia Minvielle.
Talent Development for Large Organizations
👠2015- Launch of Step Up Plus
After many, many events, workshops and keynote presentations, people kept asking us for a longer format program that would provide women with the soft skills needed to grow professionally. So, we created our year-long Step Up Plus, a program that has proven to be very effective at helping women gain self-confidence which is at the core of everything else. We work with Fortune 500 companies across the globe.
👠2016- Launch of Step Up Men
After working with several companies, we heard the need to involve men in order for them to become inclusion champions. That’s when we created a separate program just to address this specific need. Providing specific, actionable tools for men to support their colleagues and to contribute to more inclusive organizations.
To recognize the efforts of the many individuals who are affecting change in the inclusion space day in and day out we created two kinds of awards. The Hall of Fame— to recognize senior leaders who walk the talk (but we actually call it: “walk the walk”). This is an award reserved for executives who truly move the needle, and one we don’t use to recognize people in HR or DEI. The Red Shoe Leader Award, on the other hand is reserved for anyone who goes beyond their job description to foster inclusion.
Building A Community Globally
👠2018- Roll out “Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas,” a Red Shoe Movement® Gender Equity global initiative
As our marketing communications campaign #RedShoeTuesday had always been such an integral part of our strategy to drive inclusion in and out of corporations, we decided to launch the Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas to echo UN’s “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality,” an initiative the UN carries out with stock exchanges around the world to underscore the need for more women in leadership roles. Our first year we celebrated with the entire Celebrity Cruises fleet and Royal Caribbean offices around the world. Since then, every year the initiative has included a number of Celebrating Partners that join us during Women’s History Month in a ceremony that involves reading a manifesto, ringing a physical bell, wearing red shoes and often, carrying out an internal workshop for their teams. In 2020 we partnered with visual artist Scherezade García to turn our bells into art objects.
👠2019-2020 Expansion to Europe, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa
As our clients experienced the effectiveness of our programs to help their female talent grow and to help them create inclusive cultures, we expanded our services to many other regions. We now have participants from 68 countries.
👠2020 – Launch of #InclusionIsNotOnPause initiative
Knowing from the moment the pandemic hit, that women would be the group most adversely impacted by the lockdown, we launched #InclusionIsNotOnPause. A series of tactics that organizations could implement to make sure they kept their eyes on inclusion. We created a series of elements such as digital backgrounds for leaders to use during their online calls and a lot of other relevant content.
👠2021 – Always evolving
If we learned something in the last few years, it’s that there’s no stopping the evolution of concepts. The conversation around Diversity and Inclusion has expanded to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and now to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Openness. By continuing to widen our reach to include people who move the needle in different and valuable ways, we stay relevant in this conversation. An example of this is the evolution of our Awardees. In 2021 we recognized Vanessa Nakate, a young, Ugandan climate change activist who has connected the issue of girls’ education with climate change and Mark Bryan, a robotics engineer, American football coach who has become a fashion icon. He loves to wear skirts and heels and believes clothes should not define who you are.
👠2022 – Launch of #WingsOfCourage
This year, after 10 years walking in women’s shoes, it was time to give them a pair of wings to take flight. So, we partnered with artist, Colette Miller, creator of the Global Angel Wings Project to develop the #WingsOfCourage initiative. It is an invitation for all of us to become the wind beneath women’s wings so that they can reach new heights. Our first installation is in New York City, in an iconic skyscraper overlooking the Freedom Tower in downtown Manhattan.
It’s been a long and at the same time very short decade. When we look back, we have both a sense that we’ve accomplished a lot and that there’s still so much to do. So, here’s to our next 10 years! May they be as fruitful and filled with the kind of excitement that brought us to this point today.
There are a ton of people who we need to thank for walking alongside the Red Shoe Movement over the years. We’ve taken different opportunities to do just that along the way. You know who you are. Our Ambassadors, facilitators, volunteers, our clients turned friends, and friends who are ongoing advisors, the mentors, coaches, sponsors, and most of all our global community that never tires of promoting our principles, and supporting our mission. And specially to our core team: Gustavo Carvajal, Havi Goffan, Marie Chalita, Gustavo Averbuj, Ana Gonzalez, Lila Chami, Sully Pacheco, MJ Romero, Aline Cerdán Verástegui and Sol Feldsztejn, thank you for your dedication all these years.