Posts Tagged ‘come out’

The business significance and rationale of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s public coming out as gay

Over the past few years US pro football and basketball players have publicly come out as gay, dispelling some common gay stereotypes (link) and sending a signal to everyone that you can be true to yourself and excel in any field for which you have the talent and passion. Link to articles on basketball player Jason Collins coming out and on the value recently out football player Michael Sam brings to the table.

Tim Cook, Apple CEO

Tim Cook, Apple CEO

And now this past week another American milestone has been reached with Apple CEO Tim Cook publishing an essay declaring he is proud to be gay. (Link to article.) This makes our first publically out LGBT CEO in the Fortune 1000.

Interestingly enough, this led me to recall and revisit a blog I wrote two years ago in October 2012 for National Coming Out Day titled, “The Business Value of Coming Out for Executives and Senior Managers.” I now want to revisit those compelling reasons for senior business leaders to come out:

1. It benefits the company! In retaining sharp young talent and recruiting the very best, LGBT people and all others who value diversity want to see full diversity among the senior leaders. LGBT employees will want to see that people like them can reach the upper echelons based on business achievement and not be held back for being gay. If I were currently working at Apple I would be so stoked by Cook’s pronouncement!

2. You will come across as more authentic with coworkers. Appearing secretive or aloof could also lead to team members wondering if they can trust you with business matters. Being an open authentic person and bringing your full self to the workplace helps build trust and stronger working relationships.

3. You will not have to waste any energy keeping track of who knows and who doesn’t, and what you told to whom. Instead of those mental gyrations, you can spend your full intellectual and emotional capital achieving excellent results on the job. In fact, Tim Cook stated, “I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important.”

4. Finally, it is liberating and freeing to live an open, honest life where you fully and publicly portray satisfaction with yourself as a person.

Feel free to call on me for my consulting services to either help you build a welcoming corporate culture that facilitates everyone bringing their full true selves to the workplace, or to assist and coach closeted executives on coming out. And take my 13 question GLBT diversity quiz to see how LGBT-inclusive your organization is.

8 Lessons in my Journey as an Out Gay Man

A more personal blog as we near the end of LGBT Pride Month, June, 2014. See last’s month’s blog about being an ally that also includes links to half a dozen other LGBT Pride blogs.

Blog author Stan Kimer (on the left) with his partner of 23 years Rich Roark on a recent vacation in Morocco.

Blog author Stan Kimer (on the left) with his partner of 23 years Rich Roark on a recent vacation in Morocco.

In April, I was invited by our local PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) to share my life journey as an out gay man. Made up of parents, families, friends, and straight allies united with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT), PFLAG is committed to advancing equality and societal acceptance of LGBT people through its threefold mission of support, education and advocacy. PFLAG now has over 350 chapters and 200,000 members and supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities and rural areas in all 50 states.

As I prepared my presentation, I ended up coming up with 8 key lessons to share during my almost 25 year journey as an out gay man:

1. It is great to be true to myself, and others will respect that. Life has been so much better living fully and honestly into who I really am!

2. Being super nice works a lot better than being super nasty. When my father was initially cool to the idea of me being gay and having a boyfriend, my boyfriend won him over by going over and doing my parent’s yard work after my father broke his ankle.

A later newspaper article in the Durham Herald Sun about out LGBT employees in the work place featured blog author Stan Kimer while at IBM.

A later newspaper article in the Durham Herald Sun about out LGBT employees in the work place featured blog author Stan Kimer while at IBM.

3. Sometimes the optimal time to come out simply appears. Grab it and run! I had not initially planned to publicly come out when I did, but an opportunity to participate in a newspaper story when IBM announced domestic partner benefits provided an excellent platform for me to share some of my story.

4. You never know who is watching and what good may come of it. After coming out, I spoke on a number of diversity panels at IBM as an out gay employee, not realizing that IBM’s VP of Diversity Ted Childs was listening. He liked what he heard and offered me the position of IBM’s global corporate LGBT Diversity Manager, which was the most fun job I ever had!

5. Building allies and not having a “single issue focus” is important. I served many years on the Governing Board of the North Carolina Council of Churches advocating for racial justice, education improvements, economic justice, health issues, etc., and even as an out gay man was elected President.

6. As a visible gay man in a leadership role (President of the NC Council of Churches), I knew I had the added responsibility of being a good representative of the LGBT community.

7. Take the hate with a grain of salt and chuckle at the absurdness of it all. When I was elected President of the NC Council of Churches, 98% of the publicity was positive (example – link to Associated Press story), but one over-the-top negative article asserted that my hidden agenda was to visit junior high Sunday School classes to seduce young boys. How ridiculous!

8. It’s now time to enjoy my remaining years! As I approach 60 years old, I am going to do the things I like the most and walk away from any aggravating or demeaning environments.

I really enjoyed sharing my journey and these lessons at that April PFLAG meeting, and am very open to speaking or sharing at similar venues – you can email me at

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