LGBT founder of a social enterprise with questions on the PR impact of coming out.

I’m an LGBT entrepreneur running a social startup with strong interest abroad. I’m concerned that being open about my orientation and being active in that community might jeopordize my company’s ability to move into certain parts of the world. If it were just a matter of monetary returns, I wouldn’t think think twice about it, but my company creates a product that improves safety and quality of life for users, and I don’t want to make that less accessible or less attractive to any at-risk groups because of something totally unrelated to our company’s activities and mission. It’s less a matter of being out at all – if you really tried, you could already find this out about me – but of whether to be active in the community and out publicly.

Thoughts?


  • Don’t worry too much about this. Even if your product is well known, you as the CEO of the company are unknown. Your customers do not check who you are, what you thing and what you do before buying your products. Even if you talk on TV shows, most people won’t make the link between you and your product.

    The only risk is if you sell to organizations which think they have some reasons to check your “morality” before buying your product (except organizations fighting against LGBT, I don’t see any example).

    Try to remember the last time you didn’t buy a product you needed just because the CEO was this or that… It probably never happened. It’s the same for 99.99% of your potential customers.

    Indeed, something could happen if you come out publicly: a few customers having recently bought your product may regret their purchase. But they will forget it the day after because they have much more important things to think about.

  • This is going to sound harsher than it means. If people don’t buy your product because of your sexual orientation, they don’t deserve what you offer.

    I wouldn’t sit in meetings discussing it, I’d live my life as normal.

    Most countries are ok with you being lgbt, they know people have been lgbt for thousands of years. They will judge you on the content of your character, price of your product, and ability to perform/deliver. Some countries don’t like personal information being out there and this applies to heterosexuals too… Put your pics of drinking, smoking, kissing, hugging family and friends on private. They only want to see business pics. If you are doing public speaking at lgbt events, cool… Just make sure you’re in a suit.

    If a country has a problem with you being lgbt period, let them stay in the dark ages.

  • I’m confused as to why you’re contemplating coming out now.

    If you’re doing so as a way of potentially getting PR – that’s a terrible decision.

    If, on the other hand, you’re simply not blatant one way or the other about your personal orientation, that’s perfectly fine.

  • Hi – only noticing this question.

    I think it is a personal choice and it depends whether you want to make a thing of it.

    I am pro diversity and inclusion; this are values I want to convey through my work (I work for a big firm) and my business (I also run my own business). It is a conscious decision.

    With my current employer I am completely out at ‘work’ and chair the firm LGBT network.

    With my own business, I published dedicated blog articles on LGBT artists for example and I am looking to partner with LGBT art organisation to support the community, as I am doing with other local social companies.

    Kind regards

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