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The LGBTQ Communities’ Role in Business

Queer Boardroom

Despite the best efforts of women, individuals from certain ethnic backgrounds, the disabled and the LGBTQ community, the landscape of American business is still predominately governed by cis straight white males. Business is synonymous with a certain type of person, as it’s highly unlikely that when asked to imagine a businessperson you’ll think of a Black lesbian woman in a suit.

Although the representation of these undervalued communities, especially the LGBTQ community, is low in some of the biggest companies in the world, there are still a few trailblazers and inspirational individuals that deserve to be highlighted and celebrated for their efforts.

It was pleasing to discover that there is a healthy number of LGBTQ individuals holding dominating positions in some of the world’s leading companies, far more than those that are going to be explored today, but it’s still worth mentioning that lower down the business pyramid, countless gay, transgender or non-binary individuals are facing discrimination, harassment and unjust treatment at an alarming rate just because of who they are. Something needs to be done, and thankfully there are many charities you can support that aid these vulnerable individuals in these terrible situations.

Here are some of the brightest people in business, who just so happen to be within the LGBTQ community, who can serve as inspiration and a guiding light. The individuals on this list are in no particular order and have not been ranked.

Tim Cook: CEO of Apple

Although being more associated with its founder, the late Steve Jobs, under the watch of Tim Cook, who has served as CEO of the tech and music giants since 2011, Apple has shifted and transformed to keep with the times and remain as one of the most exciting companies in the world. Tim is well admired within the business world, due to how he was able to help give Apple’s inventory and outgoing expenses a much-needed overhaul, which helped the company save money and earn greater profits.

Under Tim Cook, Apple has emerged as the trendsetter in both mobile technology and computing, as well as overseeing new ventures under the Apple moniker such as the Apple Watch.

Cook came out as publicly gay in 2014, however was thought to have been openly gay about his sexuality within his private life. His reveal created outrange in some less tolerable places in the world, such as in Russia, where a monument of Steve Jobs was destroyed shortly after Tim’s coming out. This just goes to prove that more figures like this need to emerge to help make the LGBTQ community a more accepted sector of our society, as it should be.

Interestingly, Cook’s announcement made him the first openly gay induvial to be included in the Fortune 500 list. To best equip yourself to potentially get to this level, it could be worth enrolling in an MBA program to teach you the essential business skills. For an example, click here.

Alan Joyce: CEO of Qantas Airlines

Qantas airlines is one of the most luxurious flight providers in the world, making it far easier for travelers of all kind to visit Australia, the home nation of the company. Qantas airlines is well regarded in the air travel industry and provides a luxurious experience to long-haul travelers providing some great entertainment, food and comfort.

Alan is an incredibly experienced and well-traveled member of the industry, having served and excelled in numerous positions in Aer Lingus before landing the CEO position of Qantas in 2008. It’s an excellent story of an Irish-born lad rising up the ranks through hard work and dedication and is an inspiration to people of any background, gender and sexuality.

Unlike Tim Cook, Joyce has been openly gay throughout his long career, being committed in a gay relationship for 20 years. For his work in air travel, as well as his contribution to the LGBTQ community, Joyce was award the civil honor of becoming a Companion of the Order of Australia, which is the highest award that can be bestowed upon someone in the state.

Martine Rothblatt: CEO of United Therapeutics

Martine Rothblatt is currently the highest-earning CEO in the entire biopharmaceutical industry, which revolves around creating drugs and medication from living organisms such as bacteria, yeast and cellular life, as opposed to the traditional use of chemical synthesis to create these products. Her company has helped create and get in the market a wide array of beneficial products, making her business contribution a truly beneficial one to the world.

Martine has had a remarkably interesting and well-documented career where she has been involved in the field of law, medicine and even worked within aerospace. An obviously intelligent individual, Martine publicly came out as a transgender woman in 1994, becoming one of the very few transgender individuals to make it to such a high position. She’s a fierce advocate for trans rights and dedicates a lot of her free time to transhumanist efforts as she’s determined to give back to the community.

Claudia Brind-Woody: Vice President of IBM

Since becoming the Vice President of the technological giant, IBM, Claudia Brind-Woody is now one of the most powerful women working in the tech industry today. As well as being the Vice President she is also the managing director for IBM Global Intellectual Licensing, making her a women with a lot of responsibilities and things to manage, and one of the most vital members of personnel in the entire organization. Much like a lot of LGBTQ industry leaders, Claudia had to work her way to this position, having served on IBM for over 20 years, where she held a multitude of different roles during her time with the company.

Brind-Woody is an out lesbian and is a highly active individual in the gay community too. She has served on the boards of multiple LGBTQ organizations over the past years and has won awards for her work, including the Out & Equal Trailblazer Award in 2011. She’s an active public speaker, and has spoken publicly on issues surrounding diversity and LGBTQ rights globally.

Joel Simkhai: Founder of Grindr

With Grindr being a dating app and service designed solely for gay individuals to meet-up and mingle, it’s no surprise to some to find that its founder is also a gay man. Grindr is an institution within the gay community and has risen to become the most successful dating apps for gay men, but on top of that one of the most successful dating apps period. The app was launched in 2008 with Joel leading its operations and development right up until the app was acquired by Chinese company, Kunlun, in 2018.

Simkhai is an incredibly open individual about his sexuality and has become a key figure in the community because of his heritage, where being gay is less accepted in that society. He has a big platform and uses it to promote gay rights and spends a lot of time trying to raise finances and support for LGBTQ causes.

Top LGBTQ Focused Businesses

With the amount of gay, trans or lesbian individuals in positions of power for a vast number of companies all around the world, it’s good to know that a lot of these businesses are mobilizing initiatives and work cultures to be more inclusive for everyone, including the LGBTQ community. Each year certain companies are praised and credited for their work in making things more equal. Here are some of the most LGBTQ friendly places to work in.

Bain & Company

Since 2007 Bain has routinely been awarded one of the HRC’s ‘Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality’ awards. They’ve achieved this by making it a regular part of their workplaces to offer numerous events that enlighten but also tailor for the gay individuals working there. Things such as inviting in prominent speakers of the community to the office, as well as organizing social outings, network events and mentorship programs demonstrate that Bain and Co are putting the effort in to make working there an enjoyable environment for all.

They also offer a unique system for the LGBTQ community whereby individuals can rank their comfort levels on sharing their identity and sexuality with the whole workplace. These range from level one being ‘completely open and out’ to level three where they’re only open to an ERG administrator.

American Airlines

American Airlines is regularly recognized as one of the best places to work in the US, and is only one of three airlines to make the cut. This can be attributed to them putting their focus on expanding their LGBTQ support to not just their staff but also the external suppliers they utilize. By doing this, American Airlines is able to promote LGBTQ owned businesses among other diverse and minority-owned businesses.


The popular rideshare service supports their LGBTQ employees through three main processes: recruitment and retention, community outreach, and training. This means that all their staff is subject to certain training to make sure they’re suitable to work with a wide array of ethnicities, as well as provide support to try and keep LGBTQ individuals to stay. They also showed their commitment by joining the Equality Act, which ensures equal protection in the workplace for LGBTQ employees.