Tim Cook has become world's most powerful gay manNON-inclusive workplaces and a lack of role models are two of the biggest challenges for gay people looking to get ahead in the corporate world. Not for too much longer, hope diversity activists, following the appointment of Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.
Cook's rise to the top of the most valuable company in the world could well mean he has become the world's most powerful gay man.
Cook, who had been notoriously silent on his sexuality before being outed as gay earlier this year by tech media, was ranked number one in Out magazine’s Power 50 index in May, taking over the top spot from US talk show host Ellen Degeneres.
The 50-year-old engineer was noted as a "leader-in-waiting" after taking the CEO reins on numerous occasions while Jobs was on sick leave.
He joined Apple in 1998 and served as Chief Operating Officer responsible for the company's worldwide sales and operations.
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He has been described in the past as the genius behind Jobs and a key to the success of Apple's operations. He will now be hailed as a role model for gay people in the corporate world.
Tim Cook is Steve Jobs's choice to take over Apple. The appointment will give hope to gay businessmen and women. Picture: EPA "I think that it's a fantastic development," said Nareen Young, CEO of Diversity Council of Australia.
"What it reinforces is that gay and lesbian people are everywhere and the fact that they have are reaching the senior echelons of business is an achievement."
She added: "While there are a lot of role models out there, having a gay person at the helm of one of the world’s biggest companies might encourage people to come out who haven’t felt comfortable doing so in the past,” said Young.
Rodney Croome, spokesman of Australian Marriage Equality, said: “There are still many gay and lesbian people at high levels of the corporate world who are afraid to come out. Cook's appointment will help open the corporate closet."
When Cook arrived at Apple he was instructed with the task of cleaning up the manufacturing, distribution and global supply system.
Before Apple, he was vice president of Corporate Materials for Compaq and also spend 12 years with IBM which was named as Australia’s most gay-friendly employer at an awards ceremony in May.
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