Apple’s CEO, Timothy Cook, announced his sexuality in a an article by Bloomberg Businessweek published Oct. 30 with hopes of proving that Apple is becoming a more progressive and open company. He proudly declared that he is gay while running one of the most powerful and influential businesses of our century. This has brought the movement towards acceptance to everyone regardless of sexual orientation to the business realm. Several months ago it hit the sports world with numerous big-name sports players, such as Jason Collins, announcing their sexualities. Those men transformed the way we see sports. Originally, sports were solely for “macho men” who were strictly straight. With the announcement of their sexualities, they opened the door for many other athletes to feel comfortable to also announce their orientations.
Tim Cook parallels this phenomenon within the business world. For those who have been oppressed due to their sexuality, they now have hope that they can one day become successful despite who they choose to love, man or woman. He became a role model. In the corporate world, 83 percent of the members of the LGBT community hide their sexuality. Cook made it possible to no longer have to be ashamed or scared of who you are because of your workplace. In respect to the company, none of this has affected the business for the foreseeable future; however, it is important to note that in some Asian countries, where Apple received 27 percent of its revenue in the fourth quarter, homosexuality is punishable by law. Luckily, Cook was able to make the announcement while maintaining control of the company.
His approach was to be open about his private life in order to reflect this same attitude toward Apple. It is important to acknowledge this as a huge step in the right direction for freedom of expression of oneself and not have it negatively impact one’s professional career. The business world is comparable to the sports world, where homosexuality was shamed and frowned upon. Becoming successful was seen as analogous to being a man. Due to preconceived notions of homosexuality, being a man did not include loving another man. Now, it will be possible for others to break through the glass ceiling that members of the LGBT community face in their professional lives. It is easier to picture a possibility if we have seen it before. We rarely heard of any homosexual professional sports players, then we saw more than one come out to the public and now it is seen as acceptable. The same will go for the corporate business world. Now that an executive of a highly profitable company has proven it is possible to be gay and successful, those struggling with their sexuality can be open about who they are while pursuing their dreams.
This is a huge step in the right direction. With numerous states making same-sex marriage legal, it was only a matter of time before corporate America got on board as well. The same attitude towards sports and homosexuality stands true for business and sexuality. Thankfully, Cook’s announcement has broken that barrier and we can now continue to move forward past the stringent notions of sexuality.