By Albert Lin
Apple CEO Tim Cook finally acknowledged an open secret when he came out as a gay man in a first-person piece for Bloomberg Businessweek.
“While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now,” he wrote. “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 gave his preference to “maintain a basic level of privacy” as the reason he did not come out before, but said that he has not hid his orientation. Indeed, Out ranked Cook No. 1 on its Power 50 list as far back as 2011, when he was Apple’s acting CEO while Steve Jobs was on medical leave. In June, Cook was accidentally outed by a CNBC anchor who incorrectly said, “I think Tim Cook is open about the fact that he is gay.”
Why did he ultimately decide to come out Cook said that he came to realize that his desire for privacy “has been holding me back from doing something more important.”
“I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others,” he wrote. “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.”
Cook becomes the first openly LGBT CEO of a Fortune 500 company. The New York Times reported in September that there were only two other openly gay CEOs of publicly traded American companies: Trevor Burgess of C1 Financial and Jason Grenfell-Gardner of IGI Laboratories.
In his piece, Cook wrote, “The company I am so fortunate to lead has long advocated for human rights and equality for all.” But like other Silicon Valley companies, Apple’s employee demographics show a strong preference for white men.
In an exclusive interview with DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti, Reverend Jesse Jackson—who has been pushing Silicon Valley companies to release their data and to offer more opportunities to members of underrepresented groups—discusses why diversity in Silicon Valley matters.
Visconti also reminds Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who put his foot in his mouth at a recent conference for women in computing, that karma is not a career strategy.