How Do You Like Them Apples?

An executive decision with wide-ranging impact.

Posted Feb 05, 2015

A recent food blog posted: “Rather than eating an apple from the outside in to the core—which wastes approximately 30 percent of the fruit—people should eat it from the top down.” Tim Cook did it!

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, recently came out, big time. The New York Times and Bloomberg Business Week quoted him saying some very important things. He let the world know: “I am proud to be gay.” And he went on to say, “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. It’s been tough, but given me the confidence to be myself.”

A private person, he also recognizes the importance of his visibility and how he can inspire others who feel alone. Prior to his death, Steve Jobs urged Cook to be himself when he took the company over.

Why this is significant:

Given that corporate America is viewed by many as a “good old boys’ network,” his action reminds the good old boys that we are everywhere: at the board meetings, the dinner functions, and on the conference calls, whether they see it or not. 

Furthermore, Tim Cook serves as a role model to many people, gay and straight: “If he can do it, so can I.”  Someone who has made it to the top revealing himself to the world makes it easier for those coming up to do the same.

Over the last 30 years, many of my clients working in the corporate sector have felt it necessary to be secretive about normal details of their private lives: what they did over the weekend, to whom they are married, what they do during their leisure time. Thanks to Tim Cook, others will find their voices and hiding will no longer will be the rule.

Perhaps we can all take the lead. Stand proud.  Hold your own. When you are ready, speak your truth and find your way to being honest with your co-workers. You will most likely be pleasantly surprised.  The professional closet will no longer be the place hang out, and the acceptance you receive will help you heal from the wounds of childhood and growing up. The addition of your voice will also help educate those around you. Let’s all take a bite from that Apple, please!