June 15, 2021
Shae Wilson grew up in a military family, bouncing around from California to Japan, and then to North Carolina where her family finally settled and put down roots.
Strong and nurturing, Shae dreamed of becoming a medical doctor. That ambition took a turn when family circumstances required that she become her younger brother’s caregiver, supporting him while also attending college at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
“I had to put aside a lot of my career goals just to be able to establish myself and take care of us,” she said.
Early in her career, Shae achieved success with a career in sales, rising to become the first Black female in a sales leadership role at a beverage company. During this time, she also got married and became a mother, while still grappling with her identity and place in the professional world.
Shae (right) and her wife, Taralyn (left), on their honeymoon.
“I am a triple minority: I am Black, I am a woman and I am LGBTQ+. I can’t hide being Black or being a woman. But at times, I would hold back being LGBTQ+ because I didn’t know how people would respond,” Shae said. “As I’ve matured, I’ve become more comfortable with who I am. Now, when I look back and see the Shaes coming up behind me, I want them to know: ‘it’s okay to be your full self, to be fully authentic in what you do, and if you can’t be, then change where you are, not who you are.’”
Realizing her dream career
Three years ago, Shae began a job search to find an employer that shared her commitment to doing good and giving back—a company that celebrated its employees’ differences and cared about advancing an agenda for diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I).
“I was hitting a glass ceiling at my former company. I wanted to continue working in sales—something I’d grown to love—but finally be able to live out my dream to improve patient care,” she said. “That is when I found Boston Scientific and took on a role as a territory manager.” Within two years, Shae was promoted to sales development manager. “I love this company. The culture, the prioritization and transparency of our DE&I efforts, the empathy of our leaders, and the advocacy and allyship from everyone on the team is important to me,” she said. “Being Black, female and part of the LGBTQ+ community means I’m usually one of one in the room, but I never feel that way at Boston Scientific. I wouldn’t even call it a team culture. I’d call it a family culture.”
An inclusive and supportive workplace
After joining Boston Scientific, Shae tapped into the company’s network of employee resource groups (ERGs) to connect with colleagues of similar backgrounds and experiences for peer support, growth and community engagement.
Shae remembers the moment when she was inspired to translate her involvement into a leadership opportunity. She was attending a company-sponsored event for GLAAD’s Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, when they recognized the names of 375 lives lost to anti-transgender violence in 2021—the highest recorded number in American history.
“Seeing the faces and names of the lives that were lost, it definitely provoked action for me to want to step into a leadership role,” she said.
Last November, she was named global lead of the company’s PRIDE (Promoting Respect, Inclusion, Diversity & Equality) ERG. In this role, Shae is charged with engaging 19 chapters around the world and is off to a running start. She is focused on advancing opportunities for education and inclusivity for LGBTQ+ employees and allies. Her passion also extends externally, with plans for programming for LGBTQ+ youth in the communities where Boston Scientific employees work and live.
Shae’s work—and that of other Boston Scientific employees—is making a difference and gaining important recognition. The company was named one of the Best Workplaces for LGBTQ+ Equality for eight consecutive years based on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI).
Shae credits the company’s open, supportive culture for helping her find her voice, thrive as a sales leader and step more fully into activism, all under difficult circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing social injustice and systemic racism.
“The last two years have been among the most difficult in my life and I know that I am not alone,” she said. “What helped me through this time is that I’ve always felt supported at Boston Scientific, from my manager all the way up to our CEO Mike Mahoney. I know all organizations say they care for their people, but people really walk the talk here.”