Out & Equal exists to help LGBTQ people thrive at work, and to support organizations in creating better workplace culture where everyone feels like they belong. Both of those goals are supported by our partnership with the Korn Ferry Foundation in support of the Leadership U for Humanity program.
“You are capable of so much more than you realize.”
Shaka Farr (he/him) is Lead Diverse Segments Program Manager at Wells Fargo and graduated from Korn Ferry’s Leadership U. for Humanity program in Spring 2022. He has been involved in Wells Fargo’s LGBTQ+ inclusion efforts for over 10 years, serving as an enterprise leader on the firm’s LGBTQ Employee Resource Network board and currently as the LGBTQ Segment Lead for Wells Fargo’s Talent Acquisition Strategy and Delivery Team. Outside of work, Shaka serves on the board for Quorum, Minnesota’s LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce.
What drew you to Leadership U. for Humanity? Why did you decide to enroll?
I’ve been out and open in the workplace for my entire career after being outed as a freshman in high school. My experience has taught me grit and resilience to showing up authentically, which has not always been easy. LUFH provided tried-and-true tools and resources to taking my experience and enhancing it to properly position myself for success as a leader in my career while expanding my network to other diverse leaders, which is something truly close to my heart—personally and professionally.
What was your experience like going through the program?
It was incredible to be in the room (virtually, of course) with other diverse leaders navigating their own respective journeys. The programming dove deep into simple, yet remarkably complex concepts that made navigating the program and sessions naturally challenging while being able to easily bring the lessons learned to my teams. I appreciated how the concepts were relatable to all, regardless of our journey.
What are some key lessons you’ve taken away from your time with LUFH?
Never let go of your curiosity and always be intentional with how you listen to others. We can often become overtaken with the nuances from the day-to-day and LUFH empowered me and my fellow cohort with effective resources to pause and reflect.
What have you discovered about yourself as a professional throughout the program?
That my experience, whether known to myself or not, is valid and valuable to those around me and to myself more than I sometimes give myself credit for. I think we all need to be reminded of this from time to time, and LUFH came at just the right time for me, personally.
Why is it important for you to be out in the workplace?
Bringing your authentic self to work is freeing. If you expand your energy to cover yourself, you’re using precious energy that would otherwise empower yourself to be a stronger, better, and more resourceful leader.
Why is it important for you to be active in LGBTQ+ inclusion efforts?
Our community continues to face unique obstacles in the workplace and in the world. Being a driving force in LGBTQ+ inclusion efforts enables me to share the resources and learnings from my own journey to hopefully bridge the gap and invest in equity for others. In addition to serving as an enterprise leader on my company’s LGBTQ Employee Resource Network Board, I also serve on the board for Quorum, Minnesota’s LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce where I get to take this passion and put it toward my local community. LUFH has empowered me with the resources for me to do this work more effectively, as well.
What have you taken away from your organization’s partnership with Out & Equal?
That we can always do more. Wells Fargo’s longstanding commitment to the LGBTQ+ community (and to diversity, equity and inclusion as a whole) has always inspired me, and seeing our continued investment with Out & Equal and their programming inspires me to continue doing more for our community—both within and outside of the company.
What are your long-term career goals?
In the next 5 years, I intend to be a people leader within a human resources or diversity, equity and inclusion function. I don’t believe my journey as a senior individual contributor is finished yet, and programs like LUFH provided relevant tools for me to sharpen the saw as I navigate the role in front of me while actively preparing me for what comes next.
In what ways has being out at work progressed you towards these goals?
Recognizing that everyone has invisible diversity dimensions that impact and influence how they navigate the world has given me a unique introspection on what it means to lead. Not everyone takes the time to stop and reflect on this experience and navigating the corporate world. As an out Queer, Black man with an invisible disability, being out at work has prepared me for more than I would’ve ever dreamed by teaching me patience, resilience, empathy, and respectful curiosity for the journey of others. My intersectional experience is my superpower and I’m lucky to be able to share these gifts.
What advice do you have for LGBTQ+ professionals who want to enroll in Leadership U for Humanity?
Consider the cohort members in front of you (past and present) and take the time to get to know them and their experience. Some of the most valuable insights I found in the program came from folks who were in completely different industries and roles. Just as your diversity is your superpower, as is the same for your cohort members.
What advice do you have for LGBTQ+ professionals in general?
You are capable of so much more than you realize. Take your experience for what it is and remember that you have survived thus far—now it’s time for you to thrive. Let’s thrive together.