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Our Evolution from the Girls’ Lounge to the Equality Lounge

As we embark on a new decade, we are excited to share the evolution of The Female Quotient. To explain more about our growth and impact, CEO Shelley Zalis sat down for a Q&A:


Tell us about The Female Quotient’s beginnings.

It all started in 2013 when I wanted to go to CES. It’s a tech conference, but since my background was in market research, I didn’t know anyone — and walking into a sea of thousands of people, less than 10% of whom were women, was intimidating. So, I called up a few girlfriends, asked them to go with me, and told them to invite their girlfriends. Before I knew it, more than 50 women were walking the floor together. That’s when two things happened: All of us women experienced a big confidence boost from being together. And we got noticed. That’s where I coined the phrase there’s power in the pack. A woman alone has power; together, we have impact. The Girls’ Lounge was born, and that sparked a movement that has become The Female Quotient.


How has The Female Quotient evolved? 

Originally, we called our pop-up experiences the Girls’ Lounge to combat the boys’ club. I figured the opposite of boy is girl; the opposite of club is lounge. The Girls’ Lounge started as a destination at big industry conferences around the world for women to collaborate and connect. It became a safe haven, oasis, and sanctuary for women, including for me.

Today, we have connected more than 50,000 women in business and created the largest female-led global community and movement to transform workplace culture. We are advancing women from entry-level to board level, working with everyone from college girls to CEOs. Together with our partners, we are adding more women to every equation and advancing equality around the world through our four pillars:

Equality Lounge®
The place where we all belong
We bring leaders together to activate change through pop-up experiences at conferences, companies, and college campuses.

Business of Equality®
Rewriting the rules of the workplace
We help companies achieve equality across parity, pipeline, and policy through Equality Bootcamps®, custom research, toolkits, and public-private sector collaboration.

FQ Collection®
Giving back with generosity
Our range of clothing and jewelry furthers Global Goal #5 by unlocking stories about the impact of girls’ education and supporting female-focused non-profit organizations.

FQ Media
Voice of equality
We collect, create, and share content around the power of women, advice on navigating the modern workplace, and case studies of parity, policy, and pipeline.

What we originally created was a community of women supporting women and an environment where no one was ever alone. Now, it’s time to create solutions for change in the workplace. Equality is not a female issue; it’s a leadership issue and a social and economic imperative. That’s why we have evolved to the Equality Lounge, a place where everyone is united by one common mission: equality for all.

Inside the Lounge


Where do we stand in terms of equality today? 

According to the latest Global Gender Gap Report, it will take 257 years to attain pay parity between women and men. We can’t wait that long. For years, everyone has been doing the same thing separately — and that’s why we’re going backward. To advance equality, we need to unite and collaborate so we can move forward, together.


And where does the Equality Lounge come in?

We say that equality is a leadership issue, but really, it’s a leadership opportunity. In the Equality Lounge, we create a space for leaders from around the world, across industries and sectors, to join forces and take action. It’s within our power to close these gaps in years, not centuries, but we have to do it together. The Equality Lounge provides that catalyst for change.


How do authentic conversations foster inclusion and advance equality?

Equality is a choice, unconscious bias is an excuse. We need to consciously show up so we can reverse the trend. Every person who steps into the Equality Lounge, as a speaker or attendee, is making a conscious commitment to equality. We were the first in establishing an open space where everyone feels comfortable having uncomfortable conversations. By opening up a dialogue, we are dismantling systemic inequalities and creating a more inclusive world. We want everyone to be part of this transformation, which is why I’m so excited to evolve The Female Quotient and introduce the Equality Lounge — the place where we all belong.

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To keep posted on the latest updates from our community, check out: 

Take Five: Top Moments for Women in 2019

Why Art Has No Gender

10 Leaders on How to Turbocharge Innovation