International Women’s Day: Shelley Zalis and the Female Quotient

The Female Quotient, founded by Shelley Zalis, is committed to advancing equality through practice, media, pop-up experience, and collection. FQ Collection is The Female Quotient’s interactive line of clothing, jewelry, and accessories that unlocks stories of women around the world, advancing equality through generosity, awareness, and impact.

What was your inspiration behind creating your company The Female Quotient?

I always say that a moment became a movement. Before founding The Female Quotient, I left the corporate world to pioneer online research. At the time, as is still the case, women were vastly underrepresented at the executive level. I was used to being the only woman in the room, but that didn’t mean I was happy about it! While attending the Consumer Electronics Show in 2013, I didn’t want to feel like the lone woman among a sea of men, so I gathered a group of girlfriends to walk the floor with me. Being part of this “pack” was incredible. It gave us women confidence and it got us noticed and helped us do better business at CES. It showed me what happens when the minority can act and feel like the majority, and this was a feeling that I wanted every woman and minority to experience. That’s what led me to start the Girls’ Lounge, which was the genesis of The Female Quotient.

Tell us more about the Equality Lounges?

The Female Quotient is supporting women all over the world, from entry-level to board level. We work with companies and business leaders to tackle systemic issues like closing the wage gap, eliminating bias, and changing company culture. Originally, we called our pop-up experiences the Girls’ Lounge as a response to the boys’ club. After all, the opposite of boy is girl; the opposite of club is lounge. The Lounge started as a destination for women at global industry conferences to collaborate and connect. As our community grew, so did our mission. The Lounge became a space for leaders, working across industries and sectors, even those who might normally be considered “competitors,” to convene and take action. Every person who steps into the Equality Lounge, regardless of whether they are a CEO or a college student, a woman or a man, is making a conscious commitment to equality. Everyone needs to be part of this conversation, which is why we recently evolved our name to the Equality Lounge. It’s the place where we all belong.

Women’s equality is a beast, how do you even begin to tackle this huge issue in the world?

It’s time to stop admiring the problem and start activating solutions for change. We’re not moving forward; we’re going backwards. In the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap report, the US ranked 53 out of 153 countries. Ten years ago, we were number 19. At the current rate of progress, we won’t close the global gender gap for 99.5 years. I think these “big picture” numbers can be overwhelming (I find them overwhelming!), which is why it’s so important to remember the everyday steps we can all take to advance equality. These are simple things: Speak up for a woman who is regularly interrupted in meetings, mentor someone from a different background than your own, make sure you’re not using biased language, the list goes on and on.

How can WE be more like Shelley? Advice?

Support your pack! We’re so much better when we work together. Embrace collaboration over competition. And when you see bias — both in your own behavior or someone else’s, call it out. We need to educate each other to be better.

What beauty products do you ALWAYS keep in your bag?

The Blue Butterfly Balm and Organic Omega Booster are my go-tos! They give me a great glow and make me feel hydrated and refreshed.

How do you keep your skin looking healthy and glowing when you are always on the go? Any tips or tricks?

Flying really does a number on your skin. I try to drink lots of water, when I can remember to, and layer on lots of moisturizing products. And of course, the moment I land, I schedule a facial with Sonya!

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