By Julissa Catalan
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been outed on live television.
While discussing the lack of openly gay CEOs on a live segment of CNBC’s Squawk on the Street, co-host Simon Hobbs referenced the Apple exec in saying: “I think Tim Cook is open about the fact that he is gay.”
The panelwhich included New York Times columnist James B. Stewartdiscussed Stewart’s recent article “Among Gay C.E.O.s, the Pressure to Conform,” which chronicles John Browne’s life as a closeted executive for BP.
Browne resigned as CEO of BP in 2007, shortly after being outed by the British tabloid The Daily Mail.
Of this, Stewart said, “I just found it very, very fascinating. Of course, there are gay CEOs in major companies. I reached out to many of them.”
But none were willing to come forward.
“I got an extremely cool reception,” he said, adding, “Not one would allow to be named at all.”
That is when Hobbs named Cook. After a long, awkward silence, he asked: “Oh, dear, was that an error I thought he was open about it.”
Cook has indeed been supportive of the LGBT communitylast year he advocated for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act by writing an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal titled “Workplace Equality Is Good for Business“however, he has never publicly addressed his own sexual orientation.
On June 17, Cook tweeted:
Tim Cook (@tim_cook) June 17, 2014
Two days after the CNBC broadcast, Cookwearing an Apple Pride T-shirtjoined 5,000 Apple employees at the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade.
His appearance at the parade was not announced prior, and thousands of Apple employees were surprised and cheered when Cook arrived. Though he did not march in the parade along with his employees, he did pose for photos with them.
After the LGBT celebration, he went on to tweet:
Tim Cook (@tim_cook) June 29, 2014
Like Cook, Apple has been known for its secrecyrefusing to disclose its EEO-1 data, citing “commercial harm” as the reason, following a formal request from the San Jose Mercury News. And while Apple is showing its support for the LGBT community, it has been known for its internal lack of diversity, especially in leadership roles, which are primarily filled by white males who are over the age of 50.
Most recently, Apple has even been criticized for the lack of diversity within their emoji selection. The company made a public promise to diversify its keyboard characters following the nationwide criticism, but still fell short last month when it released 250 new emojinone of which were Black or Latino characters.