Wearing Red for Success: Marielah Dabbah

By: Yadira Y. Caro

Marielah Dabbah has many people excited about wearing red shoes. This is not a fashion statement, it is a movement she developed to create awareness about gender equality in the workplace. Through her book Find your Inner Red Shoes, Step into your Own Success and her numerous speaking engagements throughout Latin America and US, she has been giving her message of helping women find success and tap into their strengths.

Helping others find success has been a constant in Mariela’s books. These include bilingual titles such as The Latino Advantage in the Workplace and Help your Children Succeed High School and Go to College. I asked Marielah about her current initiatives, what drives her work choices and some advice for women to succeed in the workplace.

What is the Red Shoe Movement about?

The Red Shoe Movement (RSM) is a leadership development company powered by a global community of women (and men who support them) who support each other for career success. Our mission is to accelerate the representation of women at the highest levels of decision-making. We achieve this with a two- pronged approach. On the one hand we provide leadership training to female talent within organizations to help them move to the next level in their careers. On the other, we conduct cultural awareness and marketing communications initiatives that aim at a global leap of consciousness. A tipping point on the gender equality issue.

Our best known initiative is #RedShoeTuesday, the day when we all wear red shoes and ties to work to support women’s career advancement. It’s an invitation to keep alive the conversation about how we can do to change our culture together in order to level the playing field for 100% of the talent.

“It’s important to know what you want so that you can align your attention with your intention.” – Marielah Dabbah

What are some activities you have had?

Every year we have the RSM Signature Event in NYC, which is an experiential leadership event unlike any other. This year’s takes place November 16 at MetLife. We’ll welcome close to 200 mid to high level executives from Fortune 500 companies. As we offer all our programs and our website in English and Spanish, we work a lot in Latin America. So for the last several years we’ve been working with our clients’ female talent in the U.S and across the Latin American region.

In the last couple of years we have organically grown into a communications partner for our clients. We rolled out the “Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas” with Celebrity Cruises, a Red Shoe Movement Gender Equality global initiative to echo the UN’s “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality”. We created a ceremony that was held on the entire Celebrity Cruises fleet and at Royal Caribbean’s offices around the world.

Sodexo, Chile

The last time we spoke  you had written a book about helping Latinos find work. Today you are supporting career success for women. What drives your projects and initiatives? How do you decide? 

They are usually a natural evolution that comes from working with different people and learning about their needs. It suddenly becomes apparent what my next focus should be. It happens when I feel I’ve done enough in a particular space and it’s time to take on a new challenge. And if I feel passionately about it, then I explore the topic. So far my initiatives have been kicked off by a book that I wrote on the subject. This may change in the future.

Can you share one essential piece of advice you give women to succeed in their career?

It’s important to know what you want so that you can align your attention with your intention. When you’re not sure what intrigues you, what fulfills you, what moves you, it’s easy to be swayed by others decisions for what you should or shouldn’t do. Once you know what you want, find ways to express it so others understand and direct the right opportunities to you.

Can you share a challenge or failure and what did you learn from it?

It’s hard to point out one mistake as I’ve made many and continue to make many along the way. When you make decisions every day and take on challenging projects, you learn as you go, so failing is an integral part of growing. I don’t even label these occasions “failures.” They are always a point of departure for something new, or to do things in a different way. Making friends with failure is the best you can do to grow faster. So you fail, learn, move on, and at some point you succeed. And you just continue to repeat the process.

Can you recommend 3 resources (book, podcast, etc.) you use to help you become better at what you are doing?

I read a lot both fiction and non-fiction as I find they inspire completely different ideas. And the books I pick are not necessarily only about talent development, gender equality or leadership. I’m finishing now The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life by David Quammen. And I recently read Delicacy by David Foenkinos, a great French author. My point is, your mind needs stimulation. And that comes from the most diverse sources. And I’m addicted to podcasts! Revisionist History, Radio Lab, Hidden Brain and Freakonomics are some of my favorites.

Do you have questions, feedback or suggestions of people to interview? Contact me! 

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