“I’m proud to be gay,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote this morning in an essay published in Bloomberg, “and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”
While Cook’s sexual orientation was no secret, this is the first time he has addressed it publicly. And in doing so, he becomes the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company, joining a small cohort of of powerful business executives who are “out.”
The Paypal co-founder turned billionaire venture capitalist is outspoken on public policy and business strategy, but less so on his personal life. Still, Thiel’s sexuality has been well-known for some time, and he has talked about the added challenges faced by gay CEOs.
Burgess, the CEO of C1 Bank in Petersburg, Florida, became the first openly gay person to head a publicly-traded bank after his company’s IPO in August. Burgess has been openly gay since he was a teenager.
Brooke-Marciniak, global vice chair of public policy at Ernst & Young, is part of the highest management body at the company and has been named to Forbes list of 100 most powerful women multiple times. She went public with her sexuality in the 2011 “It Gets Better” video campaign, and became Brooke-Marciniak this year after marrying ex-WNBA star Michelle Brooke-Marciniak.
Simoes is the CEO of HSBC in the UK. In 2013 he topped OUTstanding’s and the Financial Times’s list of LGBT business leaders, whose rankings account for seniority and influence, role model status, and contributions to the LGBT anti-discrimination cause. Simoes has worked closely with HSBC’s internal diversity committee and has contributed to Out on the Street, an LGBT leadership organization for the financial industry.