Why is Apple’s Tim Cook the only openly gay CEO of a major US firm?

“It’s pretty startling that among the chief executives of the 500 biggest US companies only one, Tim Cook of Apple, is openly gay,” Ben Morris reports for BBC News. “His declaration this week that he is “proud to be gay” was hailed as an important moment for the gay community.”

“Campaigners say they know of bosses of other big firms who are gay, but are reluctant to be open about it. They hope Mr Cook’s public acknowledgement will spur them to come ou,” Morris reports. “So what is holding them back?”

“‘Societal views have changed considerably, but that has only really been in the past 10 years,’ says Suki Sandhu, founder of professional network Outstanding,” Morris reports. “Gay people now in their 50s and 60s could have been keeping their sexuality a secret from colleagues for years, perhaps decades. That lengthy secrecy is another reason to maintain their silence. Most business people are ‘squeamish’ about speaking about their personal lives, says Jan Gooding, group brand director of insurance giant Aviva and chair of Stonewall. They would rather be known for their work as professionals than for their sexual orientation, she says.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Russian memorial to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs dismantled after CEO Tim Cook announces he’s gay – November 3, 2014
Apple investors don’t care that Tim Cook is gay – October 31, 2014\
Goldman Sachs CEO: Apple’s Tim Cook coming out as gay ‘will resonate powerfully’ – October 31, 2014
Human Rights Campaign: Tim Cook’s announcement that he is gay will save countless lives – October 30, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me’ – October 30, 2014
Apple joins Gay Pride parade in Austin, Texas – September 21, 2014
Apple releases video highlighting employee participation in San Francisco’s LGBT Pride Parade – July 8, 2014
Tim Cook, Apple employees march in LGBT Pride Parade in San Francisco – June 30, 2014
Apple inviting employees to march in annual San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade – May 7, 2014

62 Comments

  1. Would this headline perhaps provide a clue to the answer?: “Russian memorial to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs dismantled after CEO Tim Cook announces he’s gay.”

          1. You’re confusing national boundaries with ethnic groups. The “Ukrainians” in South-Eastern Ukraine who love the Russians….are Russians. The Ukrainians still living in that part of the country don’t love the Russians very much at all.

            1. Not really; there are only about eight million (of twenty million) of ethnic Russians in South-East of Ukraine. Others are Ukrainians by ethnicity, but they have totally different mentality from those who live in Western and Central Ukraine. It comes from their different history, as well as mentality (and the fact that they always used Russian as their primary language).

    1. It’s because only 3-4% of the general population are gay.

      3.5% of 500 = 17.5 potential CEOs who might be gay. No telling if being LGBT also stopped these potential 17.5 from being CEO due to office politics, discrimination, interests that lie outside of climbing the ladder of business, (dare I say it?) AIDS deaths that took them before they made it to being a Fortune 500 CEO), etc.

      Theoretically, if you look at it objectively, there are only 5 or so LGBT CEO’s in the Fortune 500 of which Cook is one.

    1. This exactly.
      I’m not Gay, don’t care to be Gay.

      And I don’t care that Tim Cook is.. Doesn’t bother me at all. Doing his job to place Apple in a position to take over the world, Thats what I care about. (all anyone should really care about)

      1. 1) Apparently both of you care enough to comment about it. More importantly, it is obvious many people care.

        2) Tim didn’t go in the closet, apparently he never was. He was open about people around him, but decided he could help people by going public.

        3) Of course you can announce you are straight. Its not clear to me why you would. It would have to be for different reasons than Tim did, since his announcement was about helping a group of people who have often been discriminated against and that would not apply to straight people. But you should be proud you are straight!

  2. Apple is such a high-profile company, it would be rather hard for Tim Cook to conceal the fact (if he were ever trying to). He might as well admit to it before the news media makes up its own stories like they usually do to defame Apple. Now it’s over and done with like Bendgate. The news media is going to have to dig much harder now to find more negative Apple stories. Apple’s share price continues to rise so I guess there was no harm done from Tim Cook’s revelation.

  3. Cue the jokes:

    Samsung CEO announces he was gay first and will be even more gay in the coming months. Demos new features that appear gay, but provide no real functionality.

    Microsoft CEO announces plan to achieve partial gayness by Q3 2015.

    Walmart CEO leads a consortium of merchants with alternative gay option to Apple Gay.

    Analysts predict slow, but steady gains, with eventual universal acceptance of Apple Gay. World becomes a better place.

  4. Hard to believe in this day and age people give a rat’s ass for someone’s sexual orientation, who’s only “crime” is being true to themselves. Friends of mine who are gay are wonderful people. (When I was young I found it a bit threatening, now I could care less.) Some of them didn’t realize they were gay until late in life. (But the clues were all there and they seemed to be the last to know.)

    I knew a family nearby in Seattle growing up where nearly all the siblings turned out gay, which convinced me of a genetic predisposition connection to being gay.

    Personally I feel many gays make inestimable contributions to society as a result of being gay. Tim Cook merely being the tip of the iceberg. It shouldn’t be considered courageous or even necessary to make such declarations anymore. Straights don’t have to.

    1. Generally, people who have gone through their life battling some sort of disadvantage (be it a disability, race, sexual orientation, or any other quality that majority of society has historically discriminated against) tend to go in one of two directions: they either spiral into darkness, succumbing to the pressure of the discrimination and falling into depression, drug addiction, crime or other social afflictions, or they use the discrimination as a driver for anger that fuels the motivation to improve themselves. Coupled with the reality that even in the most developed societies, the members of a discriminated minority usually must prove themselves well above average for the society in order to be accepted and respected, it shouldn’t be surprising that gays often appear in higher percentage among major achievers, especially in some fields. Think of Tuskeegee airmen (WWII), Thurgud Marshall, Jackie Robinson… Gays may have not had same level of challenges (since they can easily hide it), but nonetheless, they were certainly not playing with the same odds.

    2. Just because they are wonderful people doesn’t mean their experience is enough to change your views on homosexuality being genetic.

      People are not born that way – science has known this for decades. It is not passed on and is only present in 38% of twins of this who claim it. These figures show clearly that one is not born a homosexual. Don’t buy into things so easily!

      1. With all due respect I totally disagree. I “buy” into things that have proven themselves over time. I “buy” into such phenomenon as when a family with 3 brothers and one sister all turn out to be gay but one brother. There’s no way in hell one is conditioned or “learns” to be gay anymore than one can unlearn sexual preference. Therefore there must be a genetic or perhaps environmental component to it. Whether or not a “gay gene” exists is not conclusive but there seems to be increasing evidence of something going on in the genetic pool.

  5. Well – no one cared if Cook was gay or not. For years he handled his personal life perfectly to the media with the rumors.

    Now Cook has made Apple about him, his sexuality and politics – not Apple products. And Cook writing in his letter “I’m not an activist…” when his letter clearly makes him an activist now.

    Stupid move IMO. No one cared – and now people that didn’t will.

    Apple is truly tim Cook’s Apple now.

    1. No one cared — unless they were also gay.

      You may dislike his decision as much as you wish, but without any exaggeration, his move has certainly prevented some from committing suicide. Being gay in America isn’t easy. If you are a teenager, and gay, you are the most favourite target of local bullies, without a doubt. Without positive role models such as Cook, life of those bullied teenagers looks like an endless stream of harassment, with no chance of ever achieving anything meaningful (when there are so few positive role models in the gay community). With a simple message, Cook has given hope to those teen gays that it is possible for them to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. If Cook could do it, they could too.

    2. Tim didn’t annonce he was gay because he was worried about his position at Apple, he is concerned about people who are often discriminated against and who are not as successful, or even successful at all.

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