Closeted in The Corner Office


In some places, discrimination camouflaged as business strategy — “We’re tolerant, but our customers might not be” — is considered acceptable. Even as the gay rights movement progresses at a faster clip than civil rights movements before it, there is an overwhelming pressure in the workplace to hide one’s sexual orientation.

For the Times, Claire Cain Miller writes about the depressing fact that there is not a single openly gay CEO at any of the nation’s 1,000 biggest companies.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, 91% of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in their nondiscrimination policies, up from 61 percent in 2002, but that a majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender workers remain closeted at work.

At some companies, for example, there is a belief that bringing a same-sex partner to an event like a deal-closing dinner with a conservative client could be bad for business.

And sometimes it could be. Deloitte has assigned gay consultants to work on projects for clients, only to have the clients call and say they do not want a gay person on the team, Ms. Smith said. Deloitte walked away from those contracts, she said.

“This is the leadership issue of our time,” she said.

Also, this should go without saying but in case it doesn’t: do not read the comments.

Photo via jstanden

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4 Comments / Post A Comment

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

It’s impressive to see a company like Deloitte show moral leadership on an issue like this. They generally seen as just a notch below McKinsey in terms of ruthlessness. Also what about Tim Cook at Apple, is he not officially “out”? If so it’s a pretty open secret.

Meaghano (#529)

@EvanDeSimone Oooh. Apparently other people have pointed this out too: http://www.thewire.com/national/2014/05/corporate-america-still-doesnt-have-any-openly-gay-ceos/371049/

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

@Meaghano I mean that’s still one out of many, and if i recall correctly he didn’t publicly acknowledge it until well after he had been chosen to succeed Steve Jobs.

ATF (#4,229)

My sister has her eyes set on being a CEO someday and she’s already more than well on her way. She’s never been anything but out and open, and she’s not the only one of her peer group to be this way, so I think it’ll change in the near future. She’s late 30s for reference.

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