Tim Cook comes out in plea for broader workplace diversity
Apple CEO publicly acknowledges sexuality as means of highlighting challenges that minorities face from managers at work
Tech mogul Tim Cook has revealed that he is gay, in a plea for greater support for minorities in the workplace. In a special column for Bloomberg, the Apple CEO wrote: “While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”
Cook stressed that, while his sexuality has never been an issue for him in his career, that experience is not shared by all gay workers. “For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation,” he wrote. “Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.
“Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.”
This has all played out against the backdrop of a dramatic social revolution – although progress has not moved at the same rate everywhere. “The world has changed so much since I was a kid,” Cook marvelled. “America is moving towards marriage equality, and the public figures who have bravely come out have helped change perceptions and made our culture more tolerant. Still, there are laws on the books in a majority of states that allow employers to fire people based solely on their sexual orientation. There are many places where landlords can evict tenants for being gay, or where we can be barred from visiting sick partners and sharing in their legacies. Countless people, particularly kids, face fear and abuse every day because of their sexual orientation.”
Cook added: “I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realise how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others. So 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, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”
Apple, he assured minority groups, would continue to lead the charge on providing fertile conditions for diversity. “The company I am so fortunate to lead,” he wrote “has long advocated for human rights and equality for all. We’ve taken a strong stand in support of a workplace equality bill before Congress, just as we stood for marriage equality in our home state of California. And we spoke up in Arizona when that state’s legislature passed a discriminatory bill targeting the gay community. We’ll continue to fight for our values, and I believe that any CEO of this incredible company, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, would do the same. And I will personally continue to advocate for equality for all people until my toes point up.”
Image of Tim Cook courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons.