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article imageApple CEO comes out in a Bloomberg Businessweek editorial

By Jenna Cyprus     Nov 4, 2014 in Lifestyle
On the morning of October 30, Bloomberg Businessweek published an Opening Remarks piece titled, "Tim Cook Speaks Up." The essay is written by Tim Cook, and provides readers with a stunning and extremely honest look at the life of Apple's CEO.
The piece delves into Cook's thoughts regarding civil equality. He candidly comes out of the closet publicly, stating, "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."
The essay also describes Cook's motivations to help others with his public coming out. 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."
The president of the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin, applauded the essay, stating that "Tim Cook is proof that LGBT young people can dream as big as their minds will allow them to." The Apple CEO's decision to come out certainly seems to be unprecedented. In an accompanying Bloomberg TV video about the editorial process, Businessweek editor Josh Tyrangiel explains that he knows of no other Fortune 500 CEO who has come out of the closet.
Speculation regarding Cook's sexuality has led to some awkward media issues in the past, like when a CNBC anchor accidentally voiced his belief that Cook was openly gay. At the time of the televised segment, Cook had never released a statement regarding his sexuality. The televised snafu provides strong reminders regarding the responsibilities of media professionals and the power of the closet in our current society.
Tim Cook has been outspoken regarding human rights and LGBT advocacy in the past, before his official coming out. Last year, he appeared at an Auburn University award ceremony. Cook delivered a speech emphasizing his support for human rights, and stating that "Apple has implemented protections for employees, even when the laws did not."
Cook also made an appearance at the Summer 2014 San Francisco Gay Pride festival, posing for photos with dozens of corporate employees who wore Apple logo t-shirts with the text "Pride" printed underneath. This event was extremely significant, since this was the first time the tech company has officially represented itself at the San Francisco pride event. Apple chronicled its participation in the event, posting a two-minute video on its official YouTube page.
The San Francisco Pride Parade video shows employees donning the Apple pride shirts, waving rainbow flags, and riding silver bicycles through the streets. The video concludes with the statement, "Inclusion inspires innovation."
Cook's coming out is newsworthy mainly because the act of disclosing one's sexuality is still considered a risky professional move. In 2014, the Human Rights Campaign published a study titled, "The Cost of the Closet and the Rewards of Inclusion." The statistics show that 53 percent of respondents hide their LGBT identities at work for several reasons. Concerns ranged from anti-LGBT jokes in the workplace to not wanting to make others feel uncomfortable. However, the study also chronicles the growing number of workplace protections appearing in Fortune 500 companies. As of 2014, 91 percent of Fortune 500 companies have adopted non-discrimination policies regarding sexual orientation while 61 percent have non-discrimination policies that address gender identity protections.
Cook's coming out has been met with a significant level of public support. On the same day the Bloomberg Businessweek essay was published, Representative Barney Frank praised the CEO, describing the announcement as "extremely important." Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a public status update linking to the Businessweek essay and stating "Thank you Tim for showing what it means to be a real, courageous and authentic leader." Zuckerberg is just one of many tech leaders who have stepped forward to express their praise. The initial reactions of the tech industry have been noted by the New York Times following the essay.
When it comes to the future of human rights and workplace advocacy for Apple, Cook writes, "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."
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