In 2014, Apple CEO Tim Cook came out as gay, making him the first CEO of a major company to do so.
Recently, Cook shared that his decision to come out was one he was happy with — and he’s embraced his unique place as someone who is paving the way for other leaders in the space. In an interview with CNN, Cook said that being gay was “God’s greatest gift to me.” Part of his motivation for coming out was hearing from children who were bullied for their sexual orientations. He wanted to come out to help them.
“I needed to do something for them,” Cook told CNN. His goal was to show that you “can be gay and still go on and do some big jobs in life.”
Cook said he was shocked that he was the first out CEO of a Fortune 500 company. He expressed gratitude that others have come out since. And while he may be the leading face of support for the LGBT community in the tech space, he is surely not alone. Google was ranked by Advocate as one of 10 Companies Leading Global LBGT Rights for publishing data that showed “messages about diversity and equality for the LGBT community have widespread impact.” Google has also partnered with several LGBT organizations that protect against employment discrimination, The Advocate reported.
Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and Palintir, proudly talks about his experience as a gay man in the tech space. Two years ago, PayPal pulled its expansion plans in North Carolina because of House Bill 2, which would have repealed certain protections for members of the LGBT community. The social media network Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has also stepped up its LGBT advocacy. It launched an LGBTQ Channel earlier this year that was meant to highlight stories of people inside the LGBTQ community, and it placed the story at the top of its “explore” page.
Cook says that his experience coming out has helped him understand the perspective of people in the minority.
“I learned what it was like to be a minority,” Cook told CNN. “The feeling of being in a minority gives you a level of empathy for other people who are not in the majority.”
Cover image via JStone / Shutterstock.com.