The resignation of John Browne from BP in May 2007 marked the end of an incredibly successful period for the company. Yet it was the circumstances of Browne’s resignation that dominated the headlines. As revealed in the Daily Mail, the company’s chief executive had kept his sexuality to himself for the best part of 40 years and, as he admits in The Glass Closet, it came at a considerable cost to him, both personally and professionally.
In his foreword to the second edition, Browne reflects on the positive reaction he has received since the book’s initial publication in May 2014 and the encouraging progress made around LGBT rights in the world of business. However, he also reminds us that, aside from Apple’s Tim Cook, no other FTSE 100 or Fortune 500 chief executive has yet to follow in his footsteps by publicly coming out.
As Browne argues, quite rightly, companies need to match their words with actions if their employees are going to feel confident enough to come out. While this will rarely entail the chief executive going public with his or her own sexuality, the more companies that foster a genuine environment of diversity and inclusion, the better the chances of positive change.
A very personal read on one hand and a valuable practical guide on the other, the Glass Closet will help frame and drive this incredibly important debate for years to come.
Publisher: WH Allen
Out: June 11