Irene Gregoriou Pavlidi
Chief of Staff, Bank of Cyprus

‘My aim is to promote gender diversity, both at the Bank and the society at large’

Irene is the Chief of Staff of the Bank of Cyprus, and is responsible for the Human Resources Division, the CEO Office, and the Transformation Office. She is responsible for developing and implementing an HR strategy that is in line with the strategy, vision, and mission of the Bank, as well as providing support and counsel to the CEO.

Have you been confronted with gender related roadblocks in your career?
“I am grateful for my career at Bank of Cyprus, where gender equality is of paramount importance. Being a woman has never created any blocks to my career or advancement. On the contrary, at our organisation being a career woman and having a balanced family life is not out of the ordinary, so pursuing a career was a conscious decision to make.”

What are some patterns you have noticed over the years about women at work, and things they could by doing better to advance their careers?
“It is important to realise that pursuing a career is a choice that should be taken knowingly and being aware of what this could entail. At the same time, it is important for organisations to embrace gender equal policies so that they do not allow patterns to develop that prohibit women from progressing. For example, offering flexible working arrangements for all so that all members of staff can manage a balanced life. From an international perspective, we see patterns such as women being weaker negotiators across all stages of their careers from recruitment onwards, finding it difficult to balance their personal responsibilities with their spouses (taking care of children, parents, house chores, etc.), taking more career breaks or reduced working hours. Experience and research during the pandemic has shown that it has impacted more women than men and this is something that is giving us an indication of how patterns work now and how these should be addressed.”

Why do you think companies would benefit from having more women at the top?
“Higher representation at the top and at all decision-making levels across any organisation, has multiple benefits. Aside from ensuring gender quality across the board, it also safeguards that all decisions taken are balanced, taking into consideration the needs of all stakeholders. When women become leaders, they provide a different set of skills, imaginative perspectives, and more importantly, structural, and cultural differences that drive effective solutions. In bringing a creative standpoint, a new sense of awareness will also follow to unplug the finer details that may go unmissed from the naked eye.”

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
“Women need to be strong, learn to negotiate better at all stages of their careers whilst keeping a balance in their lives. We must challenge all the stereotypes that we have grown up with and believe that women can do it all. Be bold and go after what makes you feel most uncomfortable. This is when awesome things happen.”