Apple CEO Tim Cook showed his support at San Francisco Pride this past Sunday, as many other local tech companies in the Bay Area also provided floats in the parade. As a few thousand other employees of Apple came to support the event wearing specialized Apple Pride shirts and memorabilia, the appearance of Cook came as a real surprise for many participating in the occasion.
After having been accidentally “outed” by CNBC co-host Simon Hobbs during a panel discussing gay and lesbian CEOs a few days before San Francisco Pride was to take place, Cook proceeded to arrive in any case and tweeted “Congrats to 5000 Apple employees/families who attended today’s Pride parade.” He then stated that making a strong effort to include everyone “inspires innovation.”
Although Cook declined to make an appearance in the actual parade, he met with employees and other fans for a long round of “selfies,” which soon went viral across a multitude of social media outlets. Following the parade, Apple employees attending the event were able to personally meet with Cook, who took an extended amount of time to personally greet everyone waiting in the extended line.
This year spurned the largest turnout of company and employee support throughout Apple’s history of supporting San Francisco Pride. The company also has a long tradition of backing LGBT rights across the rest of the country, having recently protested a bill in Arizona which would allow businesses to deny services to gay individuals based on religious beliefs.
Under Tim Cook, the sometimes private Apple has greatly showed its support for this year’s San Francisco Pride festival through helping attendees of the parade by setting up a LGBT station on iTunes Radio. Along with the radio station, the company listed many applications on the App Store, one of these including the “Find My Friends” app which helped people navigate through the crowds. Apple employees also gave out iTunes gift cards to people watching the parade.
Apple spokeswoman Michaela Wilkinson stated that the company thoroughly believes in equality. Additionally, she said that such diversity strengthens society: “We’re proud to support our employees and their friends and families in this weekend’s celebration.”
While other tech companies such as Google and Facebook had floats with hundreds of employees who showed their support along with Apple and Cook’s presence, New York Times columnist Jim Stewart said on CNBC that it is still unusual for heads of companies to publicly announce their homosexuality. He added that there remains “a corporate culture that prevents powerful gay men from going public.”
After the accidental “outing” on CNBC‘s panel, Stewart indicated that Tim Cook’s sexuality should not be considered when speaking about his performance at work, or for anyone else who holds a high position in a given company. Specifically, he mentioned that CEOs should be rated by their “objective criteria” and “financial performance.”
As it remains difficult for heads of major companies or people in a position of power to publicly announce their homosexuality, more and more individuals have showed their support for LGBT causes, with the tech industry in particular leading its own major campaign for equal rights. Through having showed his support at San Francisco Pride, Apple CEO Tim Cook has taken the bold leap for equality and has expressed the company’s overall support for diversity and inclusiveness.
By Scott Gaudinier