Apple CEO Tim Cook became the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company last week. Although not everyone supports the LGBT community, there is a trend of growing support, and I believe that in the future this announcement will be respected as a bold turning point for the American workplace.
We have a ways to go though. In 29 states it’s still legal to fire someone for their sexual orientation. This creates a lot of pressure for some LGBT employees to hide their sexual orientation. “In a recent study, 83 percent of LGB respondents said they had covered in the workplace, and more than half said that doing so was detrimental to their sense of self.”
From a PR perspective, Cook’s announcement brings up the tension between public and private information. What information does the public deserve to know about the CEO of Apple and in what ways will this information affect the company? I would argue that Cook’s announcement shows Apple’s inclusive culture and may prompt other companies to consider how they handle diversity. Cook’s decision speaks to Apple’s company culture of acceptance and that’s good PR. Overall, it generates good PR for Apple because more people respect public figures when they show their true identity (even if they do not agree with that person’s beliefs/decisions). I’m confident that Cook’s decision to share his sexuality will pave the way for others.