Founder of Culture Shift and Her Leadership Journey Emma Rhoades believes that all women at every level of business should have access to leadership and personal development support
After transitioning from business owner to the corporate world, you could sense not just a fundamental shift in culture, but that the culture was quite toxic. What gave you the strength and courage to change the system?
My life changed when my father passed away. He was only 54 years old when he passed from cancer. Right then, everything shifted in me. I realised that life is far too short to spend time being unhappy, worrying about the what if’s (that generally never happen anyway) and to not take chances.
I also got stuck into personal development and knew that in order to move ahead, and to get what we want, we have to stretch that comfort zone.
I get my strength from my Dad. The courage I get from focusing on why I’m doing what I’m doing. What impact will I make in this short time I have here on Earth.
What was the first step you took to influence the world of work for women and in hindsight, what – if anything – would you have done differently?
I wanted to test and see if anyone else was looking for that same support I was when I stepped into my first management role. So I reached out to a couple of contacts of women who I believed had been successful, and interviewed them.
I put their answers into a pdf, and sent it out on Facebook to see if anyone was interested in hearing stories of other women, and how they had successful careers. I created a facebook group for them to join after downloading – again, just to see if anyone would!
Within a couple of months, we had a few hundred women on the email list, and inside the facebook group and I knew I wasn’t alone in looking for that support.
Hindsight – nothing. Everything I have done has led me to this point today, and looking back – I had to go through every lesson that came my way!
What difference to a business have you seen occur through actively promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace?
Improved staff retention, increased engagement and overall – happier people. And how we feel when we go home at the end of the day ripples out to our families. So I want to make sure it’s a good feeling!
How did you hear about Rare Birds and why did you decide to become an Ambassador?
There was a callout for mentors for the first Office of Women program. I love talking business, sharing ideas and discovering innovations. Being able to help someone navigate the path I had already taken is incredibly rewarding.
What makes you optimistic about the state of play for women in business in Australia?
There are so many more conversations happening in many different circles. There feels to be momentum gathering that we can thank those who have gone before us – who started pushing this massive boulder, and now it’s up to us to keep it moving and gaining traction.
We have more focus from the Government, we have people like Jo and the Rare Birds team, all working on lifting up women and providing more opportunities.
What do you hope to achieve in your Ambassador role for the women of Brisbane and their male allies?
I hope to inspire women to step into their greatness. To know they are good enough, right now. To know that they have something to offer others and to help them see the pathway.
To raise awareness of the programs that are on offer and mostly, to connect more women with each other. So they know they are not alone.
Who in your life has been a support or mentor and how have they influenced you?
I have many, in all different areas of growth for me. Some are formal, some not so – and some don’t even know they are a mentor! But I watch them closely, and I follow what they do and how they do it.
And any woman who pushes through their comfort zone to try something new, inspires me. I want to be in their circles.
What do you think are the most important traits of a good leader?
Authenticity, courage, humility, collaborative mindset, awesome at communicating.
How is Her Leadership Journey changing the face of corporate Australia?
Historically, we see that senior levels of leadership are the ones who get the most professional development opportunities. I aim to change that by providing professional and personal development access to any woman in the workplace, no matter their role, title or hierarchy level. The ripple doesn’t always have to start from the top. And in fact, it is far more effective when it comes from the front line – from the people who have the ability to have the most impact on each other, and their customers.
We are providing a mindset shift, a movement that allows each and every woman to understand she is worthy, right now, and has the ability to make someone’s life better – today. Just by being her.
I am providing them courage and support so they can step through the doors that are opening for them.
What does the next 12 months look like on your business journey?
So exciting! We are on the verge of launching our brand new membership offering. With incredible value, this program offers opportunities to ANY woman, in ANY workplace the ability to connect, learn skills, meet and support others and learn from the experts that generally only senior leaders get access to.
There is no offering like this in Australia, and I’m so excited to finally be stepping into my true strength – collaboration and curation.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thank you to the Rare Birds Team for allowing me to impact more lives through being a mentor. I am truly grateful for the opportunity and to be part of the team.
If you would like to join us as a Rare Birds Ambassador and make an impact on economic equality, we would love to hear from you! We are looking for champions of change who will advocate for us, amplify our message and help us reach more female founders, innovators and leaders. Get in touch HERE.