17 June 2015
The Glass Closet, by Lord Browne, released in paperback
We have celebrated gay musicians for decades, the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was repealed in 2011, the first serving Conservative Member of Parliament came out in 2002, and the first openly gay U.S. Senator was elected in 2012. Prominent sports stars in the UK and US have come out in recent years. In stark contrast, it seems there is only one Fortune 500 and one FTSE 100 CEO who is gay.
John Browne, CEO of BP from 1995 to 2007, advised five prime ministers, built a reputation as a visionary leader and was regularly voted the most admired businessman by his peers.
In his inspiring book, THE GLASS CLOSET: Why Coming Out is Good Business, John Browne examines the risks and rewards of coming out in business. He presents a compelling argument — part memoir/part pointed social criticism — that individuals, the businesses they work for, and economies will thrive only when employees are able to realise and contribute their full potential, as their authentic selves, free from prejudice and anxiety because of who they are. Emphasising that this journey is far from over, Browne clearly shows how the business world is handcuffing, or losing, some of its best potential, and has a long way to go before sexual identity is no longer perceived as an identifier in the workplace.
Despite living in an age of diversity targets, corporate LGBT networks, and equal marriage, men and women fear the consequences of coming out, and evidence suggests many of their concerns are legitimate. Many allow colleagues to assume they are straight, but for those in the closet, the assumption of heterosexuality can be highly damaging. It reinforces the feeling that being gay is something that puts them at a disadvantage in their personal and professional lives, something that is probably best kept hidden.
In THE GLASS CLOSET, John Browne combines his own story with illuminating interviews with men and women inside the closet and out, and outlines steps businesses and individuals can take to shatter the glass closet. The paperback edition of THE GLASS CLOSET has a new foreword written by John Browne that reflects on the response to the book over the past year and the wider changes in the LGBT community during that time, notably Apple’s Tim Cook coming out, making him the only gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
Linked to the book and launched in June 2014, theglasscloset.org has quickly become a unique and illuminating resource of the experiences of gay people in the modern workplace. Real-life stories of both success and failure remind us of the great progress we have made, where we have gone wrong, and what organisations can do to create a more inclusive environment for gay people.
John Browne (Lord Browne of Madingley) was CEO of BP from 1995 – 2007, transforming it into one of the world’s largest companies. He was the President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a foreign member of the U.S. Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Chairman of Trustees for the Tate Galleries and the Donmar Warehouse. He holds degrees from Cambridge and Stanford Universities, was knighted in 1998, and made a life peer in 2001. He is now Executive Chairman of L1 Energy and Huawei UK, and is the author of the memoir Beyond Business, popular science book Seven Elements That Changed the World and forthcoming book Connect which shows how companies succeed by engaging radically with society.
"essential reading" – The Times
"a briskly written, thought-provoking book." – The Independent
“brave and fascinating" – Sir Richard Branson