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gender inclusion in the workplace

Mariela Dabbah, the perils of a global pandemic for gender inclusion in the workplace

As 2020 draws to a close, Mariela Dabbah, founder and CEO of the Red Shoe Movement, reflects on the Covid-19 pandemic impact for gender inclusion in the workplace. The pandemic has touched all communities and industries across the globe but most importantly, it has affected the lives of women. The consequential economic crisis is now being called the “she-cession” because women, especially those working full-time jobs, have been mostly affected by having to keep up with their jobs remotely AND managing children and their schooling at home. 

Mariela Dabbah, founder and CEO of the Red Shoe Movement (Photo courtesy Mariela Dabbah)

Mariela Dabbah, founder of a leadership development company powered by a global community of women and men allies who support each other for career success, is working to give women the support they need amid these challenging times. 

The TEDx and International speaker, award-winning, best-selling author and go-to corporate authority for Fortune 500 companies interested in inclusive cultures sat for an interview with LatinasinBusiness.us on this very specific and concerning topic. 

How the pandemic has affected women in the workplace

Despite much progress over the years in regards to the issue of gender equity in the workplace, women are still under-represented in higher level positions, with only 7% of women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. “And while many organizations boast of having a higher percentage of women than men at lower levels of the pyramid, it continues to be very lonely at the top,” Mariela says. 

In the post-Covid landscape, some of this small progress is now being dialed back. The most recent research shows how women have been much more affected by the pandemic, with one in four considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce. Many organizations are now losing their female and diverse talent at higher rates than before. 

“This is connected to the fact that women and particularly women with diverse backgrounds and with disabilities have less resources needed to support them at this time. Primarily, reasons include women tending to be the person in charge of childcare, but also, they generally make less than their male counterparts. When a decision needs to be made of who in the household will quit their job, it’s usually women,” says Mariela. 

As the primary caregivers in most households, women were already in charge of the many hours of unpaid work related to raising a family and keeping a home. This past year they have had to shoulder even more of these responsibilities as lockdowns caused children to become homeschooled through distance learning. The struggle of juggling their careers while being a hands-on parent and maintaining their household has forced many women to compromise, step back or quit all together. 

Foreseeing a negative pandemic effect on women in the workplace early on, Mariela and her team developed programs and initiatives to support them. 

The pandemic shock first, the impact later 

“It’s been a very tough year for all of us,” says Mariela. “The first few weeks of the pandemic, I felt as lost as everyone else. It wasn’t so much the change of working from home rather than going to the office. I’ve been working mostly virtually for the last decade. It was more a feeling of unease. Feeling drained. Having no willpower, having not one spark of creativity. As if everything had literally been put on pause, even my brain.” 

This same feeling has been felt by many women struggling to adjust to this new post-Covid reality. It’s hard to figure out what to do next when the future feels uncertain, with no access to resources and support systems to help them navigate these tumultuous changes. 

Women across the globe coming together virtually in solidarity for gender inclusion in the workplace (Photo courtesy Mariela Dabbah)

“It wasn’t long before we started hearing horrible stories of women being overwhelmed by trying to juggle all the new responsibilities. For instance, stories of bosses micromanaging their teams to the point of asking associates to have their cameras on during the 8 to 10-hour workday so they could check on them,” Mariela shares. 

Mariela and her team immediately created a program to address this sense of impotence and being overwhelmed to provide women with a support system that helps them avoid making rash decisions. Additionally, they have launched an initiative that continues to propel the fight for gender inclusion in the workplace. 

 

gender inclusion in the workplace

#InclusionIsNotOnPause initiative (Photo courtesy Mariela Dabbah)

“We launched the #InclusionIsNotOnPause initiative to remind everyone that we needed to keep our eyes on the gender-inclusion ball or we’d lose a lot of our hard-earned gains of the past few decades. This initiative provides a set of tactics that organizations can implement to openly show their support for inclusion of all its talent.”

Continuing the fight for gender inclusion 

Join the #RedShoeTuesday campaign! (Photo courtesy Mariela Dabbah)

Despite the pandemic and the struggles this past year, 2020 has also been a time of growth for many, Mariela included. This strange year has had its ups and downs, and for many the “break” from our traditional routines has led to inspiration and sparked new ideas for innovation. 

“I’ve been very lucky this year just by staying healthy.  Also, the fact that we’ve been delivering our programs virtually for so long played to our advantage; we made tweaks and improvements to everything we offer. My team and I kept coming up with new ways to better serve our clients now that they are all working from home,” says Mariela.

One personal highlight of 2020 that stands out to her is her invitation to present at TEDx Deer Park Women

“It was an amazing opportunity to share my vision for promoting a Global Leap of Consciousness in gender equity with our #RedShoeTuesday campaign.”

What’s next in women equity in the workplace?

“As the pandemic has proven, it’s impossible to predict what will happen five years from now. But our mission is to level the playing field for women and we will continue to do whatever we can to achieve it,” says Mariela. 

The Red Shoe Movement continues to develop new programs to address the needs of its clients and communication campaigns that keep raising awareness to reach gender equity. One of their latest programs is the Allyship Circles to help people talk about problematic issues in a safe environment. “The goal is to foster a culture of inclusion as quickly as possible so that all associates feel like they belong and that they are valued for their contributions,” Mariela explains.  

gender inclusion in the workplace

Wear your red shoes too for gender inclusion in the workplace! #RedShoeTuesday (Photo courtesy Mariela Dabbah)

We have seen many women step into leadership positions this past year, especially in politics. Each time a woman rises in leadership, it shows others that this too is possible for them. That kind of mentality is what Mariela hopes to continue to foster moving forward. 

You may be interested: Gender diversity in the C-suite, where Latinas stand

“The ‘seeing is believing’ kind of effect really works,” she said. “But progress inside corporations continues to be very slow. At the higher levels, there tends to be more women in roles such as HR, Communications and Marketing and many less in other areas of the business. However, since #BlackLivesMatter, the country seems to have experienced an awakening and as a result, organizations seem to be honestly committed to real change. We’ll have to wait and see if these changes stick. For now, we are seeing a wave of companies looking for real solutions to the inequity situation and this will have an impact not only on Black associates but on all under-represented groups, including women.” 

The future ahead is still uncertain, but as we head into the new year, Mariela and the Red Shoe Movement are more focused than ever in ensuring that she and her team continue to help women prosper and thrive in their careers.

desk exercises

Staying fit while working remotely from home: 10 easy office exercises + tips

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have all had to readjust our ways of life. If you’re one of the many non-essential workers still working remotely from home, then you’ll know first hand the struggles of achieving work-life balance. Fitness is just one of the many areas that have been thrown off balance during this time. With gyms closed and routines disrupted, many have fallen off the fitness-wagon since they can no longer grab that quick yoga class or hop over to the gym after work. Luckily, there are a few easy office exercises you can do each day in under ten minutes that will help you stay fit as you continue working remotely from home. 

office exercises

4 Tips for staying active while working remotely from home

Even if you spend long hours sitting at your desk and glued to your computer during your workday, we can always manage to get some moves in and burn some extra calories. 

office exercises

Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

Here are a few tips that can help you take advantage of your work activity and use it to your benefit: 

  1. If you spend hours on the phone, walk around the desk while on the conversation. Not only will it help change your posture but it will also energize your conversation. Best phone sales are closed while pacing around the office!
  2. If you need to be at your computer for long hours, buy a desk stepper. They’re compact and will fit right under your desk, allowing you to step away –it may take a little coordination while typing but can be done!  
  3. Another option is to change up your desk setup if possible to a standing desk or swap out your chair for an exercise ball. 
  4. And for those of you who, like me, struggle to pull yourself away from the computer: set your phone alarm every hour and take 3 minutes to stretch and do some of the easy office exercises shown below.

You might be interested: Is working remotely a pain? Tips to be more comfortable and productive

10 Easy office exercises to try

Daily exercise not only benefits your overall health, but it also can have a direct impact on your work performance and productivity, with many employees reporting that they feel “more motivated to work” and less stressed on exercise days. 

In the video below, Anna Frank from Yuru walks you through 10 easy office exercises that you can perform each day in under ten minutes.


For all of these exercises there is no or very limited equipment required, and everything you may need can easily be found around the house or office. 

Additionally, there are a multitude of free exercise videos right at your fingertips on YouTube from various creators who make curated videos specifically for those who want a quick at-home workout. You may have even heard of some as many of these workout routines have gone viral during the quarantine such as the popular Chloe Ting 2 Week Shred Challenge

But if you’re not looking for intense workout challenges, no worries! There are plenty of other quick and easy videos for you to try out. My go-to and personal favorite lately is this quick 8-minute arm workout by fitness YouTuber, Holly Dolke. It’s super simple, takes less than 10 minutes, and best of all there’s no equipment needed. Check it out below!