Last week Fortune 500 changed forever. Land O’Lakes hired its first female CEO and president — Beth Ford. While Ford is Fortune 500’s 25th female CEO, she’s its first openly gay female CEO. Only two other openly gay professionals have held such prestige in the Fortune 500 world: Tim Cook of Apple and Jim Fitterling of Dow Chemical.
When asked how being a lesbian impacted her career, Ford told Fortune “I’ve been fortunate since my mid-30s of being just who I am.” Though her belonging to the LGBT community wasn’t a part of discussions, she acknowledges “it’s not nothing.” If her role in expanding LGBT leadership “gives someone encouragement and belief that they can be their authentic self and live their life… [then] that’s a terrific moment.”
StartOut agrees. With only three openly gay CEOs in Fortune 500’s 63 year tenure, it’s clear the LGBT community does not have access to the same resources and opportunities as the broader community. In an effort to promote LGBT equality in the business world, StartOut came to life in 2009.
Focusing on LGBT entrepreneurs and those with a passion to lead in the business world, StartOut provides LGBT support, resources, events and mentorship programs. They also assist with networking, have a startup accelerator program and host a variety of LGBT events throughout the country and online. Creating jobs and prosperity for LGBT individuals not only helps the LGBT community, but the larger communities they serve. To learn how you can accelerate your career or empower LGBT entrepreneurs in your community, visit StartOut.