Vaso Perimenis: Honoring Women during Women’s History Month




Vaso Perimenis_Womens History Month_IWD

March is designated at Women’s History Month in the United States with International Women’s Day being celebrated on March 8th.  In honor of IDW, the HR Exchange Network will be honoring women contributing to human resources, including members of our advisory board.

One of my greatest privileges is working with members of our advisory board.  That includes member and contributor Vaso Perimenis.  Below is an interview between the two of us on topics related to Women’s History Month.

Mason Stevenson

In the past 25 years, what have been some of the most significant changes for women? 

Vaso Perimenis

Family Medical Leave Act (for maternity) for job security , Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Civil Rights Act of 1991 expanding rights to sue for sexual harassment, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act reset statute of limitations for equal pay lawsuits have all been passed in support of women.  We have also seen more female CEOs (As of May 2018, there are 24 female CEOs on the Fortune 500 list—or just under 5% of the total list) and more female owned businesses Between 1997 and 2017, the number of women-owned businesses increased by 114%, compared to a 44% increase among all businesses — a growth rate more than 2.5 times the national average (THE 2017 STATE OF WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES REPORT)

Mason Stevenson

How about the past 10?

Vaso Perimenis

In the past 10 years, there is an uber focus on diversity in senior leader and board roles. The digital organization of today, which operates as a network of teams, thrives on empowerment, open dialogue, and inclusive working styles. Diversity is being connected to the bottom line as a competitive advantage and this is opening more doors for women.  

Mason Stevenson

Past 5?

Vaso Perimenis

The MeToo movement, has also helped reset workplace behavior and mores, however I think taken too far can have a chilling effect on women and their interactions with men, in the workplace.

Mason Stevenson

Most significant woman “barrier breakers” of your time and why?

Vaso Perimenis

Hillary Clinton in 2016 became the first woman to win the nomination to run for president from a major political party, Katherine Johnson – whose math models put US men in space and did not get the credit she deserved.

Mason Stevenson

Who is your leading female role model and why.

Vaso Perimenis

Jane Goodall - she was one of only eight people ever allowed to do a Cambridge PhD program without having an undergraduate degree. She was passionate about studying chimps and took all that knowledge and formed a strong position regarding chimp behavior, even when criticized by men.

Mason Stevenson

If you could meet any woman, living or dead, who would you meet?

Vaso Perimenis

Marie Curie – not only was she the first woman to win the Nobel prize, her accomplishments came in spite of her being unable to enroll in university because she was a woman. She took lesser positions to earn money for a future university education in France. She had very little money while in Paris and she focused hard on her studies, earning degrees in physics. She demonstrated hard work, perseverance, found her passion for science instead of relegating herself to something less.

Mason Stevenson

Can you share an example of a hurdle or obstacle you’ve experienced in your career?  How did you overcome it?

Vaso Perimenis

One of the biggest hurdles is knowing when to walk away. It is often very difficult to accept current reality as our rationalization kicks in regularly. But when you stop learning, growing, being empowered, treated disrespectfully, and no longer have a voice…it is time to go. The obstacle in this case was myself and inability to let go. By having confidence in my abilities and knowing that I have lot of options allowed me to free myself.

Mason Stevenson

What has been your biggest career and/or personal success?

Vaso Perimenis

My biggest career success is having the courage to step into a different role, and transform the area, and create new analytics capability (without much experience but a lot of grit).

Mason Stevenson

What factors have contributed most to your success?

Vaso Perimenis

Willing to take on work outside of my comfort zone, hard work and perseverance, relationships with others, especially influencers.

Mason Stevenson

Who do you see as leading woman role models in your company/organization?

Vaso Perimenis

Leading role models are those who have integrity and operate in a way that solves problems from a position of accountability, rather than deflecting to avoid. They treat all with respect and upload confidence, building trust.

Mason Stevenson

What assumptions about women would you want to change?

Vaso Perimenis

When they have an opinion and put it in the room with conviction, that they are not “emotional”, but rather determined and passionate about their position.

Mason Stevenson

What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of women leaders?

Vaso Perimenis

The biggest challenge is equal pay for equal work and outcomes. In addition, being considered for C-suite roles. Despite being in a strong or stronger position to lead, change and shape the economic, social and political landscape they are still less likely than men to be associated with leadership positions in spheres such as politics and business.

Mason Stevenson

What advice would you give young women aspiring to be HR professionals or those just entering the practice?

Vaso Perimenis

It is the same advice I would give a young man…..work hard, accept new assignments and find learning opportunities. Have the courage to try something new. Persevere at whatever you do. Success comes from not only raw materials, but the amount of effort put into work. Don’t let anyone shake your confidence. Proceed until apprehended.

Mason Stevenson

Are there any challenges that are unique to women in leadership in the workplace?

Vaso Perimenis

Because of the child-bearing manacle, women experience setbacks in their careers. Not only do they take time out of work to have and care for their children, but on their return they are frequently unable to secure jobs at their previous level of responsibility or reward. In addition, women, because of their caregiving role, just can’t corporately play as hard as men can.

Mason Stevenson

What do you believe will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?

Vaso Perimenis

I think the traditional challenges will continue (how to balance work and life, pay equity, competition for coveted roles or positions). But the biggest new challenge is maintaining confidence in an age of social media where the feedback women receive on social media could be making them more insecure. This exacerbates the normal self-esteem issues that women have.

 

Vaso Perimenis is a member of the HR Exchange Network Advisory Board and a regular contributor.

 

Photo courtesy:  StockPhotoSecrets

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