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.