Rhondalynn Korolak, Author of "On The Shoulders of Giants"

Rhondalynn Korolak, Author of "On The Shoulders of Giants"

When I first arrived in this country several years ago, I struggled to find anyone who would hire me in a senior management capacity.  I found this puzzling since I have two degrees, two professional designations and very solid work experience with recognized international brands.  The MAIN reason I was given by organizations was that I “lacked Australian work experience”.  I found this reason to be puzzling. 

We live in a world where there are few global trading boundaries.  Every business is susceptible to the threat of losing customers to internet-based businesses (which in many cases sell the same products for less) and we need to think outside of the square to compete and maintain market share.
My track record in business speaks for itself – plus I was named Online Retailer of the Year for Canada in 2001 by the Retail Sales Council of Canada.  And yet, I initially struggled to get General Managment positions because I didn’t have enough “Australian experience”.  Doesn’t everyone else in these organizations already have enough Australian experience?  Why did need it in order to contribute and add value?  Shouldn’t my international and internet retailing experience have made a welcome, diverse addition to any senior managment team or Board?
It seems to me that the biggest thing holding Australian businesses back right now is the “me too” syndrome.  I do not consider this merely a sexist thing – there is an ingrained corporate culture where the leaders and directors want to hire others that are “like them”.   So if your management team or Board of Directors is made up largely of white, middle aged Anglo Saxon males, then that is who will tend to get the new board appointments too.  There is also a strong hint of nepotism – hiring mates that they know vs. recruiting from the wider talent pool of all eligible and interested parties. 
I would bet that if someone did a survey, they would find that most directors are of a certain age, background and educational/work pedigree.  I doubt you would find much diversity at all in terms of age, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, education and international work experience.  In my estimation if there are 10 directors sitting around the table and 9-10 of them are coming at the issues from the exact same perspective/paradigm (because they have the same background and experience), then 9 of them should not be there.  It’s that simple.  If you want to create a culture of innovation and creativity, you cannot have 10 black hats (to use the famous coloured hat analogy of Edward de Bono) sitting around the boardroom table.
In my estimation it is in times of desperation or perspiration that real change happens.  This global financial crisis may be exactly what the doctor ordered to initiate some real, progressive change around here.  We cannot continue to do what we have always done.  For many businesses, that is clearly not working any more. 

A change in global financial circumstances and a demand for innovation, improved customer service and sophistication in products may create more PULL to get women into Board positions than any federal legislation designed to PUSH women in there.  There can be no doubt that women are good communicators and skilful at developing relationships.   In this next decade I believe we will see companies steer away from boards comprised largely of white, middle aged Anglo Saxon men and more towards a unique mix of qualified candidates from all walks of life who contribute synergistically through their diversity.

In the end, I believe there is no need to push and shove women (or any other minority group) onto boards.  That sort of behaviour might be expected (but not tolerated) in the sandbox of your local kindergarten but, in my opinion, it has no place in the boardrooms of corporate Australia.

About The Author
Rhondalynn's life changed forever after the loss of her mother due to a senseless tragedy in 1992. She decided that despite her formal training and a promising career as a lawyer and chartered accountant, she wanted to do something more. So despite the fact she had already invested 10 years of her adult life in university and articling, she did the unthinkable. She left her high paid job as Commercial Manager for one of the largest corporations in the country, she re-trained herself in the sciences of the mind and she discovered a passion for writing and sharing her knowledge with business owners and executives. Rhondalynn has distilled the secrets to business success - that she learned from her life experience and working in GM level roles with Price Waterhouse Coopers, Max Factor, Village Cinemas, and Coles Group Ltd. - and produced a simple step-by-step process that you can apply to your business to boost your sales and bottom line. Rhondalynn can help you put strategies in place to grow your bottom line and ensure that your customers would never think of going elsewhere. She is the leading expert on harnessing the power of your brain and using it to improve your financial results in business. Rhondalynn is the author of On The Shoulders of Giants, Imagineering Your Destiny, Sobre Hombros deGigantes, Financial Foreplay®, and Sales Seduction. She has appeared on CNN, Bnet/CBS, Channel 7, Channel 9, Kochie's Business Builders and 3AW, and writes for Yahoo, MYOB, Fast Thinking, Sunday Life, Dynamic Business, Business Spectator and Australian Retailer.


  • By Craig 08 Nov 2009

    Hi Rhondalynn,

    Whilst I agree with you that we need more diversity, simply putting more women on boards I think misses the point that there can be more differences within the sexes than between.

    It would not be a great advancement in corporate governance to have 5 Women on a board of ten just because they are women. I think you were close to the mark with the reference to De Bono. Infact boards not only need women, they need women and men of varying personality types.

    We work with small to medium businesses teaching them about what governance means to small business and how to separate the roles of Shareholder, manager and Director. you can read more about us at http://www.sirdargroup.com and if you interested I’d be happy to arrange a ticket to one of our workshops for you.

    All the best

  • By Jen Dalitz 25 Jan 2010

    Our position at sphinxx is that it’s time for quotas. Women have been politely taking on board the feedback about the experience, expertise and networking they need to do to get into the top jobs for decades now… to little effect. Macchiavelli said all those years ago that those with the power will never voluntarily give it up. So why would the men who dominate business step aside for women? We know that organisations with more women in leadership roles produce financial results up to 35% stronger – so why don’t the shareholders insist on diversity? Because the Institutional Investors are dominated by men at the top who are threatened by the idea of diminishing their power. Organisations have also spent millions on womens programs in the past… again with little result. Targets won’t do it; we need quotas like Norway to force the shift (in Norway the quotas were only enforced by Government after boards failed to meet and work towards targets). And like Norway, we’ll find that there are in fact plenty of women qualified for board and executive positions. And we’ll also see that getting more women into leadership roles encourages more women to get there too. http://www.sphinxx.com.au

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