Tim Cook’s declaration on Thursday that “I’m proud to be gay” made him the first executive of a Fortune 500 company to come out publicly. But Mr. Cook isn’t just any chief executive. And Apple isn’t any company. It’s one of the most profitable companies in the Fortune 500 and ranks No. 1 on the magazine’s annual ranking of the most admired companies.
“Let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me,” he wrote in the essay, which was published in Bloomberg Businessweek.
As Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, put it, “He’s chief executive of the Fortune One. Something has consequences because of who does it, and this is Tim Cook and Apple. This will resonate powerfully.”
“When a CEO of a global company like Apple comes out, it opens the doors for LGBT employees around the world to be their authentic selves,” said Selisse Berry, founder of the nonprofit Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. “It also paves the way for more out executives and CEOs to do the same; once the LGBT ceiling has been broken, it gives employees the freedom to put all their energy into their work without having to hide their personal lives.”
“If hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality,” he said, “then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”
AUDREY AYOUN,IEJ 1B