In the last several years, there have been significant advancements in the fight for LGBTQ rights in America. The U.S. has made discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation illegal, which also includes discrimination around gender identity. The Supreme Court has ruled gay marriage is legally recognized. And another sign of progress is the number of companies being led by openly gay CEOs.
Some of the CEOs are private about their personal life, and others are more open. Whatever their preference, they have each accomplished a remarkable feat in their careers and are leading these giant companies into the future.
From startups to Fortune 500 companies, here are the biggest companies in America being led by LGBTQ CEOs.
Biggest Companies led by LGBTQ CEOs
1. Tim Cook, Apple
- Annual revenue: $274 billion
- Stock price (as of close July 6, 2021): $142.02
Tim Cook is the CEO of Apple and a member of the Board of Directors and has been in this role since 2011. Before his role as CEO, he was the Chief Operating Officer and held various executive positions in sales, operations, and supply chain. Cook is now a member of the Forbes billionaire list, with a net worth listed as over $1.4 billion.
Cook also has years of experience with companies such as Compaq and IBM. His extensive background and experience are what led him to lead one of the largest companies in the world. Apple now has an annual revenue of over $274 billion. What’s even more impressive is revenue has nearly tripled since 2010 under Tim Cook’s leadership.
With over $274 billion in revenue, Apple easily tops the list for the biggest company led by an openly gay CEO. One story suggests Tim Cook decided to come out as gay in 2014 after working through personal family issues with his children and was inspired to share his own story.
2. Jim Fitterling, Dow
- Annual revenue: $38 billion
- Stock price (as of close July 6, 2021): $34,577.37
The Dow company, headquartered in Midland, Michigan, is led by Jim Fitterling. He is the Chairman and CEO of one of the largest companies in the world. He was brought into the role in 2018 after having served in multiple executive leadership positions, including as former Chief Operating Officer. He has made a career with Dow, having started with them two weeks after graduating from college, where he has remained ever since.
Fitterling is now a passionate advocate for LGBTQ rights, diversity, and inclusion, particularly within the workplace. Fitterling has led the charge for diversity within the Dow workplace and hiring practices. He currently serves as the Executive Sponsor of Dow’s Global African Affinity Network and champions causes supporting LGBT non-discrimination and LGBT+ workplace equality.
Fitterling was also named the #1 LGBT+ Executive on the “OUTstanding in Business” list published annually by INvolve in 2018. In 2021, Fitterling received a high honor when he was inducted into the OUTstanding Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Out Leadership Global Advisory Board, which he joined in 2019.
3. Jeffrey Genette, Macy’s
- Annual Revenue: $24 billion
- Stock price (as of close July 6, 2021): $18.26
Jeffrey Genette is both Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board for Macy's, Inc., where he assumed the role in 2017. Before becoming Chairman and CEO, he was President of Macy’s. One of the most fascinating aspects of Genette’s career is his humble start. He worked as a retail associate in a San Francisco Macy’s and continued to rise through the ranks over the years with increased responsibility.
His corporate background includes roles in merchandising, store operations, and numerous other leadership positions. He is a graduate of Stanford University and has been an employee with Macy’s since 1983.
Today Genette serves in other leadership capacities, including those with an emphasis on LGBTQ workplace equality. In January 2018, Gennette joined the National Retail Federation Board of Directors and Executive Committee. Gennette was appointed Chairman of the NRF Foundation Board of Directors in 2019 and also joined the NRF Finance Committee.
In July of 2020, Gennette joined the CEO for Action for Diversity & Inclusion Task Force and the Governing Committee for Racial Equity.
4. Beth Ford, Land O’Lakes
- Annual Revenue: $13.9 billion
- Stock price (as of close July 6, 2021): $21.40
Beth Ford has served as President and CEO of Land O’Lakes since 2018. Ford’s expansive career and experience in a variety of farm and agribusiness categories have helped her become one of the top female CEOs in the country.
Before joining Land O’Lakes in 2011, Ford worked with other multi-million dollar companies, including Pepsi and Mobil Motor Oil. Now she focuses on leading Land O’Lakes into the next phase of operations with farm-to-fork initiatives.
Beth Ford is the first openly gay female CEO to lead a Fortune 500 company. She is married to her wife Jill, whom she met over 20 years ago while working in the publishing industry in New York City.
Now Ford not only serves as President and CEO of Land O’Lakes, but she is also a member of the Board of Directors for numerous industry leadership organizations, as well as an executive committee member for others. She has also been named by Fortune Magazine as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders and Most Powerful Women. She’s also named as one of Fast Company’s Most Productive People and Best Leaders, rounding out her impressive list of accolades.
5. Martine Rothblatt, United Therapeutics
- Annual Revenue: $1.4 billion
- Stock price (as of close July 6, 2021): $185.27
Martine Rothblatt serves as Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of United Therapeutics and is a transgender woman. Before her work with United Therapeutics, Rothblatt was a co-founder of SiriusXM satellite radio. She is also one of Forbes's highest-ranking self-made women, with a net worth of over $330 million.
Rothblatt founded United Therapeutics, a biotechnology company, in 1996 after leaving the SiriusXM corporation. Among the numerous accomplishments in her career, Rothblatt also has a law degree and M.B.A. from UCLA, plus a Ph.D. from the Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.
Martine is now a transgender rights advocate in addition to her business leadership role. Rothblatt joined the fight against bias laws in the U.S. according to the New York Times. She is also the co‑inventor of eight different patents. She is a published author too, having written Your Life or Mine: How Geoethics Can Resolve the Conflict Between Private and Public Interests in Xenotransplantation.
6. Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD
- Annual revenue: $13 million
- Stock price (as of close July 6, 2021): N/A
Sarah Kate Ellis was appointed President and CEO of GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) in early 2014. This was after she created her successful career as a media executive. The goal of GLAAD is to advocate and take strong stances regarding discrimination and bias against the LGBTQ community, and Ellis is a powerful communicator with mounds of media experience to aid in accomplishing this goal.
During her years of leadership, Ellis has “evolved GLAAD from a media watchdog organization to one of the most powerful cultural change agents across industries” according to the GLAAD website. She has been a part of countless missions to raise awareness for LGBTQ representation and inclusion in media discussions.
In addition to her leadership role with GLAAD, she works on a global scale and with the media to highlight the challenges and need for global acceptance of LGBTQ. She has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, and numerous other media outlets and forums. Her passion for making sure the voice of the LGBTQ community is heard and recognized across the world is supported by her many accomplishments with the GLAAD organization.
7. Michael Adams, SAGE
- Annual Revenue: $7 million
- Stock price (as of close July 6, 2021): N/A
SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders) is another advocacy organization raising voices and awareness for elderly LGBT. SAGE is a champion for rights and support for LGQT elders and was created in 1978. Today the group is led by Michael Adams.
Today Adams is recognized as a dedicated and passionate advocate for the elderly, particularly with the LGBTQ community. Under his leadership, the revenue has tripled for SAGE as he continues to act as the chief fundraiser. He oversees the major initiatives and programs of the agency, including ones providing technical assistance for aging providers.
Adams has many areas of expertise and experience, including strategic planning, fundraising, building a brand, and implementing programs. He wears many hats at SAGE, from lobbying federal policy change via the White House Conference on Aging, to publicly talking about aging successfully.
Before joining as CEO of SAGE, he was the Director of Education and Public Affairs for Lambda Legal, based in New York City. Adams is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Harvard College and he was appointed as CEO in 2006.
The bottom line
Each of these CEOs has made remarkable contributions and accomplishments in the business world, not only in terms of increasing revenue but showcasing their enormous talent for driving change. Whether pushing for greater diversity and inclusion in hiring practices or serving on task forces centered around LGBTQ rights, you can find each of these making incredible headway in their respective industries.