The World Trade Association of Utah interviews Nancy Papachroni on her academic and professional accomplishments, her involvement in the World Trade Association of Utah, and her view on women’s equality in Greek business.

Please tell us about your current role and responsibilities as part of the World Trade Association of Utah in Greece?

As a lawyer, I offer professional and legal advice to businesses seeking to enter the Greek market. I act as a liaison, a role I am very happy about because it is a constant reminder that there are no limits when people genuinely desire creativity and development.

Nancy Papachroni

Outside of the World Trade Association of Utah, what is your profession, and do you volunteer with any philanthropic organizations?

I am a lawyer and I run my own office. I have a Master’s degree in criminal law and I am currently finalizing my doctoral thesis. The cases we undertake with my associates mainly concern financial criminal law, corporate law, and violent crimes. Because I am particularly concerned about human rights, both as a human being and as a lawyer, I voluntarily participate in providing legal aid to people who cannot afford legal services. 

I also support KETHEA, a therapy center for dependent individuals, in terms of legal advice and representation. Graduation from the KETHEA program becomes like a second birthdate to those participating. At the core of my interests are actions that concern children who are in a weak position, either due to health problems or lack of family.

Which challenges do women in the workplace face in Greece? How has COVID impacted women in the workplace in Greece?

A challenge that women in the workplace face in Greece have to do mainly with the Greek business culture, which has not yet fully embodied a professional collaboration with women in leadership roles. In Greece, women entrepreneurs are usually active in small and medium-sized enterprises, often family-run, and they are not easily accepted in c- suites positions in large enterprises. If they want to be involved in male-dominated areas, like new technologies, cybersecurity, and engineering, this problem seems bigger.

Regarding the COVID period, women felt the greatest impact. Small and medium-sized enterprises, in which most women work, were hit hardest by the pandemic. However, I strongly believe that women can claim all the opportunities that surfaced in the post-covid era. I believe this difficult period of the pandemic leaves a passage for women to enter deeper into the business arena. During the pandemic, women proved they can fulfill multiple roles, find the balance between personal and professional life, and accomplish all of this successfully. I think the respect for our capabilities has increased and this is something that we must capitalize on immediately, claiming the space that belongs to us in public life.

The first female president was elected in Greece in 2020, yet women in Greece rank the lowest on the Gender Equality Index out of all the E.U. countries, facing increasing domestic violence and a low labor participation rate (only 44%), how do you see gender equality progressing in the future for Greece? 

Greece has gone through more than ten years of intense economic and social crisis. Unfortunately, we have seen in practice that when there is poverty in a family, the balance is upset, and violence booms. How could we disconnect the 18 murders of women, which occurred in Greece in 2021, from the deep crisis that the pandemic and lockdown brought to the surface? The labor participation rate is only one indicator that reflects recent Greek history and culture, in which traditionally women were more involved in the household and the family. Thankfully, this culture is changing. 

However, it is worth looking at the other statistics according to which the percentage of women in CEO and managing director positions increased by 5% compared to 2021, and the percentage of women in CFO positions increased by 4%. This shows that society is ready to support an upgrade in women’s roles. The government has already announced measures to support women's entrepreneurship, through training programs and funding. And organizations that support women, such as ICC Women (International Chamber of Greece Women Initiative),  S.E.G.E. (Greek Women Entrepreneurs Association), and WOMEN ACT, have an increasingly active presence in the social and political sphere, resulting in greater influence and the achievement of their goals. The binding material is, of course, education and the demolition of stereotypes in textbooks and school policies. That is the real challenge ahead.

Which advice would you share with young women looking to start their careers in Greece?

I think the biggest piece of advice I would give women is to support each other. When we do this, we can conquer every peak. Especially in Greece, where women are slightly more numerous than men, the fact that women are under-represented in parliament shows that women voters themselves don’t fully support female candidates and deprive them of the opportunity to participate more actively in decision-making. In particular, on the issue of careers in Greece, I would advise women to invest in continuous training, dedication, loyalty, and strategic partnerships. Of course, women in decision-making roles need to be objective, fair, and inclusive.

How can men advocate for women in business to help promote gender equality?

Men in positions of responsibility must advocate for women in every possible way and seek to place women in key positions of responsibility. They need to understand that their collaboration with women and the utilization of the female way of thinking and female empathy, in combination with their own qualifications, can offer solutions outside the box. Women rule less aggressively and more collectively. This works for the benefit of all.

The example that men should advocate for women has been shown by the Prime Minister of our country. During his tenure, a woman was elected to the Office of President of the Republic for the first time in Greek history. The message was loud. The actions that the government itself has taken to promote gender equality, such as women's training programs, business financing, and more, are showing the way. It is time for every man to move from rhetoric about equality to practice, and to give every woman who moves in the same social space with him, the opportunity to evolve for the benefit of all, and as role models for the next generation of women growing up now.

What would your 15-year-old self think of the woman you are today?

  You are doing well, keep walking! My 15-year-old self probably thinks that I am a woman who fights for her goals and when she believes in something, defends it to the end. She might even be surprised to see me as socially present as I am because I was quite reserved as a 15-year-old.

What advice would you give to your 15-year-old self?

What I have understood from my course is that the road we cross is lonely. It takes a lot of personal work first—in every field—to be able to join forces with others and achieve something great together. Everyone has to look for their own destination and their own way to get there. All the risks are yours, and if you do not take them, you will not achieve anything. As the poet, Cavafy says: «As you set out for Ithaka, hope the voyage is a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery». I would advise my 15-year-old self to never stop gathering knowledge, not to lose her enthusiasm, to be armed with patience, not to deviate from her values ​​and every time she is in a dilemma to just take the risk. Life ultimately rewards the brave and the full of will.

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Copyright © 2022 World Trade Association of Utah
Copyright © 2022 World Trade Association of Utah
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