This post is an English translation of an article on female entrepreneurs in Greece published by Evi Triantopoulou on the Emea website. Click here to access the original article in Greek.
“We can, as long as we believe it,” 18 successful women say. EmeaGr spoke with 18 women from various positions and asked them for their own perspective on the position and role of women in today’s business arena.
One of the – countless – conquests of women over the years, is undoubtedly their presence and their claims in the business “arena.” In a place where, especially in Greece, men “rule” traditionally, women have managed to become an equivalent “player” and through their work and dedication to their subject (whatever it is), to conquer high positions, start their own successful businesses and pave the way for future women who will choose to enter this battle.
On the occasion of Women’s Day, emeaGr spoke with 18 role model women and asked to find out their own perspective on women in business. The result? Without directions, without clichés and exaggerations, everyone expressed their own truth.
Afroditi Athanasiou (Nothingshop Founding Partner)
“Time is short but this will not be an obstacle”
Nothingshop was born in 2015, when pessimism prevailed and the image of the country was particularly blurred. Our main item is women’s handmade bag in its summer expression. The tourism of the pre-pandemic years has proved to be a valuable ally in our effort and it is true that the evolution of Nothingshop is particularly encouraging. Experience tells us that, in the industry in which we operate, there is no discrimination between sexes and business equality has been conquered. As a business woman and mother, I have to say that daily time is short and limited and you always feel that you are chasing it.
However, under no circumstances, should or can it develop into a decisive obstacle or inhibitory factor in pursuing your goals, no matter how high you have set them.
Maria Themeli (Marketing & Communications Strategy)
“The problem is not other people but how you deal with them”
I am lucky because I have worked with the largest companies in extremely crucial sectors of the market. It was a life experience with many difficulties and at the same time many joys and achievements. The first industry was technology, a difficult, demanding, very fast-paced, male-dominated and mostly competitive industry.
It was difficult for me at first, I felt that I had to prove every day that I can work as well as a man. But I quickly realized that at the end of the day if you have done the best job, either being a boy or a girl, someone will understand and will appreciate it sooner or later.
So when I took on the role of Bank Communications Manager, with the largest percentage of women in management positions, I was confident that the situation would be less competitive. And it was. It did not take so much energy and effort for your work as a woman to be appreciated. Was it easier? Definitely not.
Today I am the owner of a strategic communication company with important clients from key market sectors. I have realized over the years that the problem is not other people but how you deal with them. What matters is not the problem, but your perspective on it.
Certainly there has been gender discrimination and I came across difficult people, but over the years, experience makes you realize that your strongest weapon is your self-confidence. If you believe in yourself, in what you do, if you are informed, educated, play with your image and do not take everything personally then you definitely overcome the obstacles.
Social issues will remain, they will evolve; our perspective is the one that will always change things for the better or for the worse. I decided to have a positive outlook and treat them only for the better.
Maria Kaliambetsou (Author of three books with the latest being΄GERMS ’)
As to the question: “Why were there only a few women painters or scientists in history?” The answer is obviously: “If History had been written by women, it would have been full.”
Lee Krasner was teaching a lesson to her husband, Jackson Pollock, every day. Leonora Carrington created brilliant masterpieces under the shadow of Max Ernst, swallowing the derogatory comments of the surrealists of the company, who recognized her exclusively as their muse. Heidi Lamar wrote history as a sophisticated Hollywood doll, but under no circumstances as the brain behind a wireless encryption method used decades later in technologies such as Bluetooth and early wireless networks.
It was not centuries ago that most women were destined to be housewives and professional secretaries / assistants at best. We are talking about our twentieth century, the time of my mother, who threw her talent in the junk as well as her place in the Athenian School of Fine Arts, because the ‘bohemian life’ stigmatized a ‘girl from home’. But even later, after the famous sexual revolution and the supposed liberation, regime sexism continued unabated. ‘Even a woman can open a bottle of ketchup’ and ‘give her the place she deserves’ (nude model lying on the floor flirting with a male moccasin), the ads of the time say it all. We, thank God, were not burnt as witches for our diversity as happened in the past, we were allowed to go to school and vote (in 1944 the women’s vote was introduced and the dowry was abolished only in 1983).
Every century, the West makes a bit more progress. Today, Lee Krasner, Hilma Af Klint, and Leonora have finally taken the place they deserve in museums as great creators, not as wives, mistresses, muses, or just unbalanced. Marie Curie and Coco Chanel are no longer seen as exclusions but as the norm, more and more women are leading states and organizations (this year also the first female vice president in the US) and my mother’s granddaughter is a PhD student in neuroscience, a member of a research team made up of 80% women.
In order to reach the next level, we will necessarily go through awkward transitional stages such as recruitment processes based on gender, but the roles and the new definitions will be found, in a beautiful, fair and Darwinian way, without obstacles from ‘old school’ males, that will cease to exist. Another breakthrough. Women’s history still has many kilometers to go, but it seems to be well on its way.
Therefore, in the question “why were there only a few women painters or scientists in history?” The answer is obviously “If History had been written by women, it would have been full.”
Stavroula Kambouridou (Managing Director of the company INTERBANK SYSTEMS (DIAS) and Advisor to the Governor of the Bank of Greece on technology issues)
Gradual change in favor of diversity!
Undoubtedly, women today are still experiencing the “glass ceiling” phenomenon, as well as a “different” treatment in their professional life, especially in terms of the process of development and filling the top management positions in organizations and companies. The environment may have changed for the better and we are called to move from a clearly more positive starting point than in the past, yet enough ground remains to be covered until the coveted balance in the working landscape is achieved, as the issue does not end in the quotas, but directly “touches” the culture, “fights” the prejudices and “aims” at the ideal.
Today, the representative presence of women executives in the IT sector is at such levels that they are still considered a “minority”. How else, after all, can the reality be described more convincingly when only 30% of the total human resources in the IT market are made up of representatives of the “weak” sex, while 5% in total hold leadership positions, as shown in the results of a relevant PwC study (“Women in Work Index 2020”).
Things in the
financial sector may not be far away, but it is more than obvious that
developments are “running” and moving in a positive
direction. One has only to look around
and realize that more and more women
are occupying key positions,
even as executive members of bank boards. In the company DIAS 45% of the
members of the Board are women! The
market is maturing, becoming more “open” in terms of diversity, while
women executives now feel confident, qualified, as well as ready, for a long time now, to lead. Offering different elements from the male colleagues
at the table. Not better, but more colorful, with an emphasis on empathy, attention to detail, multi-participation, determination, and the goal of achieving the end result!
Without a doubt, in this “struggle”, we need our male colleagues by our side, in order to be allies and partners in the overall agenda of diversity. We will all benefit from this.
And this, in order for, at some point in the near future – I want to believe – the realization that a woman executive must work twice as hard in order to prove the effectiveness, skills, usefulness, but also the versatility that distinguishes her, not only to cease to exist, but to become a distant memory of past years and outdated logic.
Christina Koutromanou (Client Service Director, Hill + Knowlton)
“The role of women is about values”
We hear more and more often about the inclusion in corporate governance and indicators of women’s participation in senior management. This is extremely encouraging, but we must not dwell on numbers, but go one step further.
The trend for more humane leaders and more humane companies will intensify. It seems like an oxymoron but it looks like as we move forward with the 4th Industrial Revolution, so do we seek human characteristics as a society. In this context, the role of women in business is not superficial but deeply connects to values.
So instead of talking about helping women upgrade the image of a company that wants to build an image of an equal opportunities environment, it is time to look at how it can transform the business culture.
A feature that women can definitely give to businesses and is one of the most sought after soft skills, is empathy. Women, having experienced the same discrimination many times during their professional careers, must help in the integration of respect for personality and individuality, often bringing more understanding and communication.
For those of us who are active in corporate communication, the connection of organisations with society is a new reality that we cannot ignore. In this new reality, women having in their quiver the experience of their own struggles for equal treatment, must play a leading role in the adoption of inclusion policies even in organizations that did not have them.
The Prime Minister of New Zealand said “you can be strong and compassionate at the same time.” This phrase perfectly expresses what women managers bring to businesses. More than ever, corporate reputation is not just about numbers but also about values.
Aphrodite Kravari (Communicator, Branding and Communication Architect)
“No creature on this earth is more dangerous than a determined woman”
Behind every successful man there is a woman, but behind every successful woman is herself!
And gentlemen, International Women’s Day may have been instituted by the UN in 1977 to defend women’s rights and struggles, but since then the landscape has changed radically considering that women are the main lever and the driving force of society. Is there equality? At work or at home? Have feminist movements, fear, domestic violence or harassment at every level been eliminated?
Obviously not. There are nuggets of improvement, self-motivation, academic fanfare and occasional expert advice, but no serious steps have been taken. It was only in the year 2021 that Aeolus’s bag was opened and there were complaints of sexual harassment, but the SOS 15900 hotline is still not used without fear or shame to collect all the information from any woman who is being bullied or abused. And let’s talk about work. Greece ranks second to last among the 28 EU countries as only 49% of women in Greece (aged 20-64) are employed, as compared to 70% for men. And how can this happen, one might reasonably ask, since women hold 52% of the total population and 60% of higher education graduates in Europe are women?
According to the Equality Index of the European Institute for Gender Equality in 2020:
- The employment rate (people aged 20-64) is 49% for women and 70% for men.
- The full-time employment rate fell from 34% to 31% for women and from 61% to 48% for men between 2005 and 2017, reducing the gender gap (from 27 percentage points to 17 points).
- Twice as many women (14%) work part-time as men.
- On average, women work 39 hours a week and men 44 hours.
- The wage gap amounts to 15.5%
- The percentage of women in administrative positions is only 9%
Women’s entrepreneurship in Greece and the career path in general is presented to our eyes with more extroversion and recognition than in the past. Of course, this does not mean that there is equality or balance in gender relations or in the professional development of women.
Taboo professions, closed professions, zero family motivation, stereotypes, inability to find capital, financial instability, inaccessible networking, difficulty in coexistence of work and family, are just some of the issues that need to be raised.
Education, family, actions of institutions, state aid and of course change of culture.
Miracles do not happen overnight, but the first signs are beginning to be visible. I cannot understand why some people are capable of certain kinds of work while others are not. Is it a matter of gender? Personality? Endurance? Intellect?
“It is better to be a man in this position” or “I’m not sure she will have the expected performance”.
“My hands will get tied if she gets pregnant and I will not be able to dismiss her” or “She will not be able to do it with so much work, travel, home”.
Gentlemen, seriously now? Usually the ones who have given such answers are the same ones who raise girls and are strangely annoyed if you affect the education, integrity or secure future of their children. They are the ones who, in their work with female colleagues, hinder their development or have second thoughts about their evaluation.
For me the issue is found in stereotypes and culture. Our mentality has not changed during the last century and our false modernity does not seem to work as we would like.
“Find the profession that suits you”, is more like a test in a lifestyle magazine, and not a perpetual educational process for the support and counseling of a teenager. Although to be fair, there has been progress in career guidance tests and services that can be provided to any parent who wants to look a little further. Know that we are talking about personality tests, inclinations and dreams, not gender, inequalities or barriers.
Personality according to the modern Greek dictionary consists of the individual mental and spiritual traits and behaviors that uniquely characterize a person, his special character. So, when it comes to work, I think we should make a more careful choice based on these unique traits and behaviors.
In an earlier research and writing of an article I had written, I had singled out some personality traits that differentiate the 2 sexes and with particular curiosity I tried to consider if and when they are actually implemented. I expect each of you to do the same as readers.
I am ignorant of the scale of the scope of action that a man or woman can take in terms of education and know-how. There are no limits. Boundaries are always exceeded and redefined.
Women, by nature being instinctual beings, have many weapons in their quiver. Men, on the other hand, can start the game with a good hand, but I do not know if they can win the game… because if the weaker sex believes in itself and turns apathy into action, it can easily succeed in any project in terms of strategy, communication and results.
Here are the exact characteristics I had collected. And even if this does not benefit some, I am sorry but the list that follows is female 🙂
- If we recall Maslow’s pyramid of needs, surely at the top of the feeling of self-realization dominates a woman who focuses on communication and interpersonal relationships. Her high emotional intelligence helps her to effectively manage crises to such an extent that no man can predict (EQ vs IQ). Recognition of any kind of message by a woman is done in less than a second with clear recognition of verbal, non-verbal and parabolic messages, when a man needs three times the time to evaluate the energy and everything in the air.
- Women are primarily lifelong learners focusing more on the ins and outs of things and less on financial or competitive incentives (in most cases…). This makes them resilient to the difficulties and obstacles that arise and arms them with more stubbornness, perseverance and discipline in what they undertake, especially when it comes to their personal goals and vision. Under no circumstances, do they abandon the target and are armed with patience having friends close but enemies closer. A man easily loses interest, time and purpose if things do not “run” as he expects, when he expects them.
- Primarily more organized than men, women in the business arena are more cultured, build relationships gradually and in the long run, share information more easily, and are more resilient and flexible in their communications and collaboration
- Women, are by nature self-sufficient beings with great self-control and flexibility, have great creativity and understand more efficiently and better the upcoming market trends, especially in the fields of marketing, technology and innovation. Never underestimate a woman’s intuition, instinct and insight… in and out of work! I know many creative, agile and eloquent men, but they are the minority in professions that impose out of the box thinking, and as a result, they end up occupying more management positions than creative ones.
- Women firmly believe that “the job must be done” at all costs. Presenting a result is very important for them and they are extremely capable of finding solutions. As long as things proceed in an organized way, they do not need motivation (they are self-motivated in everything that concerns their personal, family or professional life) and of course they do not wait for hearts and hugs when their work is recognized. The same happens at home. The job will be done. Before work, after work, at the same time with a thousand other jobs, but it will be done. A man considers the house as the shelter after work, while a woman as a chameleon simply changes its color in whatever environment you place it.
I think all these are not negligible at all.
Is it self-inflicted obstacles hinder to our development? Is it our upbringing due to which old stereotypes to make things work differently have not been yet overcome? Is it external and state factors that facilitate the male career, while placing obstacles in the female? Is it our culture as a people that we all have the will for change and innovation but no courage to actually do it?
Whatever happens, gender equality does not yet exist. The forces of family, education, employment, fixed wages, psychology and non-support of women must be synchronized together to get to the point of speaking with numbers that are not shameful and to have the place we deserve as a country in world economic & labor map.
And if you ask me, we are still far away, but think about it – no creature on this earth is more dangerous than a determined woman. “She remembered who she was and the game changed.”
Marika Lambrou (Business Consultant, Author, Board Member (DEPA, Entersoft, Focus Bari)
“WE CAN, as long as we believe it!”
Mountaineering in rugged mountains resembles the evolution of the position of women in business. Neither the steep slopes nor the magnificent view from the top are missing. Each flag we nail as winners gives us the strength to move on to the next top.
We have several peaks in front of us. The statistics clearly show this: we are paid lower, we are burdened more with the care of the family and home, we interrupt our career more often, we reach less and with much more effort in the high levels of business. But we arrive! That is, WE CAN!
WE CAN! This is worth noting to the thousands of women who are employed in business and who doubt or are afraid to start the uphill route of claiming or even thinking of leaving the effort in the middle. Undoubtedly and unquestionably WE CAN! This is evidenced by the other side of statistics which says that we have improved our position in the business world, but we still have a lot to change to say with confidence that we are being treated “equally”.
Every woman who manages to believe in herself and claim her position is a victory, a step forward for all of us. Any business that realizes how widely harmful it is not to treat working women on equal terms, is a step forward. Every husband, child, parent, friend, female colleague who understands, respects and supports her professional aspirations is a step forward.
WE CAN as long as we insist, as long as we decide. There are examples of women who have fought and are fighting and manage to enforce their terms so that we as human beings and as societies can be liberated from the social stereotypes of centuries. WE CAN, as long as we believe it!
Vivian Makri (Communication specialist OBI)
“How present are you?”
When I was asked to write a few words about Women’s Day and celebrate as a woman, all I did not want to do was talk about glass ceilings, unfulfilled wishes and how to dress not as you really feel like, but depending on the position you want.
I do not know why, but each prologue usually has a characteristic weight. It gets its color from given social moments and is characterized by the energy of today. I was thinking, in fact, that Aristotle had given the characteristic “cunning” for the life of women and how it fits so perfectly in the chronicle now.
You look around and receive pain, but at the same time vindication, let us not forget that. Free girls, women-mothers, working and unemployed, retired ladies who mentally look at photos of distorted beliefs, stereotypes from the past with their friends, you are all here to correct the mistakes of the past and the mockery of the present.
And you are very good at it.
I never liked to preach. I know I did it, but mainly to educate myself, and I realized that, when I stopped for a while and invested in listening to how we really work together in society, in business, in life. With your hand on your heart, tell me, have you not felt that dialogue is now collaborative, that it draws arguments through the power of equal opportunities, have you not seen that the conversation is sealed in the sphere of female leadership, equal participation and representation?
What if the boards of various companies and family businesses are still overfilled with male positions? It is important for you to be present, to give with your voice and your working hours opportunities for diversity, and for uniqueness and inclusion in modern human affairs and the corporate ecosystem, but also to cultivate on your own a culture of equality, security and respect.
It is no coincidence that at this time we learn to evaluate things more correctly, confirming the awareness of the regularity of discrimination. Above all, however, the timing of the pandemic that erupted gave rise to the need more than ever for new models of sustainable development and prosperity.
When the universally essential notion of physical and mental survival came to the foreground, it brought along the whining about the plethora of #MeToo articles, denouncing the movement’s exaggeration and the need for inclusive employers, a concept that, fortunately, is slowly beginning to affect businesses, but automatically brought to light studies that show how huge the impact of the health crisis on women’s affairs is.
Women make up the majority of health care workers and are the ones most affected by job loss or precarious employment.
Are you ready to invest in your professional development again, to work creatively again in positions with requirements and prospects but also to correct complacency?
Women have always been in pain, and as Hannah Arendt reports in The Human Condition, you have always been hidden and occupied in somatic services but also trained to bring to light worthy citizens with ideals.
How present are you now?
Vicky Markatou (Team Coordinator in George Foufopoulos’ theater team)
“As a society we still have a lot to do to get to talk about equality”
“Women’s Day” for me, has the same – approximate – value as “Valentine’s Day”. Without being nihilistic, but I believe that in 2021 we should not talk about “celebration” of Women or respectively “celebration” of Valentine.
I want to believe that as a humanity we have managed to take – some – steps forward and overcome the “anchorages” that weighed on us in previous centuries or better in previous years. Because we should not forget that a few decades earlier, before I even completed my elementary school education, the abolition of the dowry was enacted by law – in Greece.
Personally, I believe that normally no difference in the work field between women and men should exist, and especially in those professions that the physical superiority of men is not necessary.
Having the good fortune to travel several “kilometers” in a difficult and male-dominated profession I can now say with confidence that we have taken many steps forward, as women, and we have managed to worthily win the role we deserve and can look our colleagues in the eyes, whether they are men or women.
I do not think it is easy, we often all hear “cold” jokes about us women, but now these jokes have decreased significantly, while the positions of men who stand by us have increased, feeling the same disgust with us.
Of course as a society we still have a lot to do to get to talk about equality and not see women, especially those who manage to stand out and be distinguished in some space as… aliens.
Kallia Milonaki (Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications, PwC Greece)
“More progress is needed so we can talk about equality”
The position of women in business life and work can be evaluated and interpreted based on different parameters. On the one hand, there is the purely stereotypical version that connects women mainly with traditional roles, leading to the weakening of their position at work and the creation of inequality. These are stereotypes that reflect and serve past times and socio-economic needs.
On the other hand, there is the perspective of those women who take leadership positions in business, achieve and balance between many different roles in their personal and professional lives and at the same time offer significant benefits to the organizations they serve.
The relationship between women and men at work has nothing to do with who will prevail over the other. Each side has qualities and features that complement each other.
According to PwC’s annual “Women in Work” index, an increase in women’s work in OECD countries could lead to a GDP growth of $ 6 trillion. To this end, both sexes are called upon to work to alleviate inequalities so that societies and economies can reap the benefits.
In the last decade, the position of women has been increasingly strengthened both in terms of opportunities and jobs and financially. Certainly, more progress is needed so that we can talk about gender equality at work. However, it is optimistic and encouraging that we are gradually breaking free from the stereotypes of the past with more women in the market and with excellent examples both in leadership positions and in industries and roles that have traditionally belonged to men.
Marianna Davou (Corporate & Public Affairs Director, Pitch PR)
“Women are constantly fighting, unequal and unjust battles, many times”
This year’s International Women’s Day finds us in the midst of a pandemic and its negative impact on women, as well as in the midst of revelations about sexual and verbal violence in the workplace.
One more year finds us talking about the role of women in “modern”, “developed” societies and economies. For this to be news, as there has never been in the History of this State, the assumption of the Presidency of the Republic by a woman. And in every new Government to measure the quota of men and women.
Globally, women have become the driving force behind economic growth. Achieving gender diversity in business is vital to improving business results. However, women are still under-represented in business, especially at senior management levels. Women rarely hold executive positions or serve on board. However, women are multi-talented and diverse. They combine studies, professional career, family, activities, with dynamics, with vigor, with passion, with love, with self-denial, with optimism and high perception.
Women constantly seem to be fighting, in all areas of their lives, unequal and unjust battles, many times. Survival battles, battles to prove their worth, battles for the obvious.
Until the next time that no woman is asked how she combines career and motherhood. Until the next time that no woman is asked if she has been sexually or verbally abused. Until the next time that no woman is asked for her opinion on gender equality. Until then, no society can be considered modern and developed.
Erika Xirouchaki (Director of Communication and Public Relations, Eldorado Gold)
“Learn to maintain the strength of our character”
What I notice nowadays is that there is a lot of talk about gender and a little bit about substance. The substance that accepts gender equality as a given and not as an object of claim. With this in mind, I choose as a woman to look in the eye, with confidence, a predominantly male-dominated industry, from which I receive respect and the assurance that every voice is heard and every idea becomes an act regardless of gender.
I choose to invest in the diversity of thought, without which no business can move forward. Especially nowadays, when conditions require all of us to become more inventive, imaginative and creative, it is important to learn to maintain the strength of our character by choosing to graft our thoughts and ideas with those around us. The result is what we call ‘smell of the place’, the scent of uniqueness of each organization composed of different cultures, work backgrounds and experiences of both men and women, colleagues in the same organization.
In a society that itself seems to be becoming more and more “inventive” in terms of the roles it invents for women today, I choose to love the many different roles it offers me and celebrate on Women’s Day the diversity of gender, the diversity of the human species.
Georgia Panopoulou (Project Manager at ETVA INDUSTRY. SA)
“A world of equality is a better, richer and happier world”
On this year’s International Women’s Day, I want to start by looking at the positives: at least in the Western world, the progress that has been made in recent decades on gender equality is enormous, compared to anything that has been achieved in previous centuries.
Of course, the demands, even those of the last century, remain relevant, albeit mutated: the right to vote may now be a given, but equal participation in politics remains a question. Women can be financially independent, but in no country in the world are they paid the same as men for the same work, and still face problems in their professional development solely because of their gender. The image of the body also remains in demand: after the contraceptive pill revolution, few things have been done and the controversy remains strong, even in progressive Europe.
Now, however, inequalities are heard and are intensely discussed: we measure the setback that the pandemic has cost, we measure the participation of women in the market (Greece is 26th among the 29 OECD countries, 2019) and we try to strengthen it – e.g. by instituting parental leave for fathers, or by setting up care structures for children and the elderly – there are international indicators for women’s participation in boards (also 26th and 22nd in total board positions), trying to increase their presence as experts in the public sphere (eg conferences), etc. There are many such initiatives worldwide, and this is a good development that needs to be recognized and strengthened. Everyone has a role to play in the struggle for equality: parents, the way their children grow up, politicians, the impact of the legislation they promote, business administrations to tackle prejudices and stereotypes in evaluations, in promotions and recruitment, schools, for the directives they create, any social group.
A world of equality is a better, richer and happier world, where more and more people will be able to harness their talents and achieve their goals, free of weights for the sole reason of how they were born.
Mary Podogyrou (Business Development and Marketing Consultant)
“The role of women in the professional arena today must be more complex”
In a society suffering from a severe lack of femininity, women need to highlight the importance of female nature for the progress and development of society.
Beyond the anatomical, biological difference, the two sexes express different characteristics, attitudes and perceptions about life. The masculine and feminine aspects of nature – although derived from the biological role of the sexes – are not identical with the sex (anatomy), nor with the sexuality of the individual. A man is likely to incorporate more feminine behaviors and conversely a woman may have a more developed masculine nature.
For the evolution of human nature and society, the harmonious and balanced coexistence of male and female is needed. This condition is not favored by today’s society, where economic activity has become a priority of life. As we learn to consider financial success as the most important goal of the individual, the masculine element (momentum, claim, responsibility, competition, self-control, commitment to the goal, perseverance) excels in importance compared to the quality characteristics of the female (receptivity, flexibility, creativity, understanding, tenderness, affection, sensuality, patience) that are considered insignificant or perceived as weakness.
Women are called upon to succeed in a world that has devalued female nature and does not recognize it as as important as male for a successful life. In the name of equality, women develop their masculine side, because they know that this is the only way to succeed. Yes, women’s participation in economic activity is necessary, but this participation acquires value when women highlight their feminine side, not when they try to act like you men.
The role of women in the professional arena today must be more complex than just succeeding as a man. The woman should not let her feminine elements shrink, but highlight their importance and seek an environment with the stability and security that female nature needs to flourish.
That is why it is wrong to talk about equality between men and women. What we need to discuss is the responsibility we have for each other and how together we can create a better society where success will not only be reflected in the financial result, but also in other aspects, such as personal happiness or commitment to raising one’s child.
Olga Stavropoulou (Co-founder of Social Enterprise knowl)
“Equality is not a given but… there is hope”
Women are good for business: let’s “sell” the benefits of women’s participation in the labor market.
Let us highlight (then) the benefits to convince ourselves of the obvious, that is, that it benefits us all (businesses, economy, households), to insist on the equal participation of women in the labor market.
Together let us “sell” how good it’s in our pockets to insist on cultivating a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion in the labor market.
It is a fact that the low participation of women in the labor market and the unequal conditions of competition between women and men damage the economy of our country, especially when the average educational level of these women is high.
The priority of companies to attract and retain talented people in their potential is a window of opportunity: just remind them that there is a large, untapped pool in the other half of the population.
At the same time, it is important to insist on cultivating a growth mindset because the lack of entrepreneurial awareness and insight that distinguishes “concrete-minded” management, regardless of age and gender, limits women’s participation and “feeds” the gender gap, with lower wages (while having the same qualifications), fewer working hours, inferior positions and barriers to women’s professional development, compared to men. Even in the lesser paid professions, where we find more women, they are still paid significantly less than men.
That is why we are called to constantly try alternative ways, which will overturn these deep-rooted, restrictive beliefs, which have a clear financial cost for the country as a whole. One such way is to focus on the benefits, not just the problem. To answer the question “what will I gain from this?” in order to stimulate interest and increase awareness. To enter as a Trojan horse into the stereotypes that prevail, shape and implement the respective policies (unequal pay, unequal development opportunities, lack of quality care for children and the elderly) that limit women to produce only 37% of GDP when they constitute 50% of population, worldwide.
Fortunately, there is hope. According to neuroscientists, the neuroplasticity of our brain helps us to unlearn, at least what does not serve us, on a personal, social and economic level. That is why the concept of “unlearn” has now entered the global debate on professional (and personal) development. And one of the first things we are called to unlearn, is that the low participation of women in the work environment is bad business.
On the contrary, increasing the participation of women in the labor market can lead to higher productivity, improve teamwork, cooperation, communication between employees and positively enhance the company’s reputation as an employer.
Utilizing the “two worlds”, the different skills they have and perspectives, increases creativity and empathy, and more clearly reflects customers (and society) in their products and services. Finally, numerous publications confirm that equal representation of women and men on the boards also increases profitability.
So let’s talk about the benefits of having more women in the job market. Without ignoring the problem, without resting, regardless of whether we have experienced it, heard it, faced it… There is evidence, studies, evidence. It happens. And yes, equality is not a given, yet.
Maria Filippi (Head of Informatics and Digital Education, Douka Schools)
“In projects where Vision and Challenge are predominant, women should be the catalyst for success”
The value of women in business is emerging today more than ever, as women have steadily strengthened their role in organizations and businesses in times of crisis. The ability of the female mind to function effectively and at many levels, synthetically utilizing the multiple intelligences of the brain, provides solutions in times when flexibility, adaptability and resilience are essential characteristics for the successful course of any organisation.
A business is an “organism”, a “body”, that you have to take care of in order to function and “give birth”. Female executives can empathically organize the daily life and ingeniously compose the information having clearly in front of them the big picture. This is the main reason in projects where Vision and Challenge are predominant, women are the catalyst for success. An illustrative example is the contribution of women of color to NASA before the installation of large computer systems, so that Man can put objects in orbit and “go out” into the universe.
Social restrictions, stereotypes and violence of all kinds create great obstacles for women in every field and therefore in business. There is still a long way to go to address equality, but it is important to strengthen companies that stand strong in the face of inequality and give their People space to create regardless of gender or other discrimination.
The field of education has always supported and been supported by women. Education “teaches” Humanism and a woman in an organization that operates based on ethics and open horizons of innovation can help in the creation of the resources that will lead the world to a sustainable future. Trust the woman as she can create life.
Sophia Chalkidou (Communication specialist and founder of wellenwide corporate affairs)
“The main driving force for a successful career is love”
I have been in business for thirty years and the only time I regretted being a woman was an instance, a month after giving birth to my child, where I already was a businesswoman. I had to attend an important business meeting while my brain’s fatigue, the newborn’s insomnia and the anxiety of being a businesswoman overwhelmed me.
Twenty or thirty years ago, motherhood had no place on the business table. Today things show that prejudices have eased and that conditions for mothers-executives have improved significantly, especially in large companies. But things remain extremely demanding for business mothers.
Motherhood was the only time in my life when my gender played a role. Throughout my career, my obsession with work did not leave much room for those around me to ignore me or bypass me. History has shown that this is one of the main ways for women to establish their position not only in business but also in every profession. As a result, today, more and more capable women around the world have taken up executive positions, marking the next day of business.
At the same time, another factor that will change the balances in the staffing of companies is the very needs created by the financial crisis internationally. In their search for new ways of approaching business, the international market will be forced to accelerate the penetration of women executives in business. This is because male-dominated boards have realized that the presence of women in decision-making centers will create smarter businesses, precisely because most businesses lack thought pluralism and inclusion today.
It is therefore very likely that we will see more inclusive businesses in the future, not only at the level of women but also at the level of members of the LGBT community.
If I were to give any advice to young women who are just starting out in their careers, and in uncharted times, I would tell them that the key to a successful career is love for what they do.
Dr. Anastasia Psomiadi (Founder & President of APSON)
“We break the stereotypes! We choose the roles and the ways, regardless of what is socially acceptable! ”
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, I share 3 tips for women professionals and entrepreneurs who do their best every day, facing different challenges each time.
- The basis of our worldview is the roadmap for our professional and business journey! After discovering our own self and embracing its strengths and weaknesses, we build a great relationship with it! Our relationship with ourselves is also what determines the relationship with partners, colleagues, customers, subordinates. The smoother the relationship, the more efficient the collaborations become!
- We utilize our empathy for shaping a healthy working climate and fruitful collaborations! We take into account the needs and expectations of our partners, employees, customers and stakeholders in general and we integrate them in our business strategy, offering solutions to them! Not only will we offer them joy but we will also ensure loyalty!
- We break the stereotypes! We choose the roles and the ways, regardless of what is socially acceptable! If our moral values shine, even if something we choose does not conform to the masses we will be able not only to enjoy it but also to establish it! Even the network of entrepreneurs or professionals that we or our potential customers belong to is considered a mass, which while it could form patterns of behavior, we choose not to be chained but to express ourselves freely! So we move FREE with a high level of BUSINESS ETHICS and we are not afraid of anything at all! We create our own course with wonderful obstacles, which make us stronger and virtuous
And let us have as motto of our life the phrase of Thucydides, from the Epitaph of Pericles: “Happy are the Free and Free are the Brave”!