by Renee Brown, SVP, Director of Social Media, Wells Fargo and member of Out & Equal’s Board of Directors | I have read about folks who live with clear boundaries in their lives and are able to say “no” to folks asking for their time and help. I happen to NOT be one of those people – and this adds up to both a strength and a weakness for me personally and professionally. When I was asked to serve as the Co-Chair for the 2012 Executive Forum – I don’t think I even asked any questions – I was on board and ready to go! The experience turned out to be as helpful to my professional development as it was helpful to Out & Equal to have Co-Chairs keeping things moving.
I recall two of my favorite moments from the last Executive Forum. Claudia Brind-Woody’s overview of international equality was the most eye-opening learning for me, and I have many times quoted that good work. The Leadership Celebration [now known as Momentum] at the end of the program offered fabulous entertainment and meaningful messages from the likes of Mayor Annise Parker, a true trailblazer.
The benefit to attendees of the Executive Forum is the intimate nature of the gathering of people like you – corporate executives who are out in their workplace. I assume a typical day in your life is to lead an organization, manage change, drive revenue, come out, cut expenses, come out again, and try to balance work and life. And, as you have advanced in your organization the amount of safe colleagues to share experiences with, to vent with, to get advice from dwindles with every step up the corporate ladder, and that circle can be even smaller for LGBT (lesbian,gay, bisexual, and transgender) executives. Organizations will get much more than their money’s worth in sending executives to this forum. It should be thought of as a down payment to the future success of your organization.
After attending the ExFo, I was able to positively impact change in my company related to the tax gross up for domestic partners. Having heard the path other corporations have taken, I helped our PRIDE network advance a proposal that was subsequently announced and will be implemented in January of 2014 – these are real successes driven by the connections made at the ExFo.
For any new ExFo attendees, the best way to prepare is to clear your calendar and plan to be disconnected from work. My first year at the ExFo, I thought I would pop in and out like I often do at larger conferences. Not with the ExFo – it is a small gathering and offers dedicated time for mentoring and deep discussion on issues of importance to you, your companies and your career. So, plan to be totally OOTO and fully engaged! I hope to see new smiling faces this Spring!
Executive Forum takes place April 23-25 in San Francisco at the Four Seasons hotel. ExFo will conclude with Momentum – Out & Equal’s Annual Leadership Celebration. At Out & Equal’s website, you can find more information about how to apply for ExFo and how to nominate your colleagues. The application deadline is March 1st.