The Glass Closet: Why Coming Out is Good Business (w/Lord John Browne)
“Never tell anyone a secret because they will surely use it against you.” That’s what Lord John Browne’s mother, an Auschwitz survivor, always told her son. The former CEO of BP followed her advice until he was 59 years old when his secret—the fact that he was a closeted gay man—was exposed by an ex-boyfriend in the British tabloids.
The revelation resulted in a media storm and Lord Browne’s immediate resignation. Just like that, after almost 40 years of service to his employer, he was out of a job and out of the closet. Keep in mind that in the few years before he was outed, Lord Browne had been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, named to the house of Lords, won the UK’s “Most Admired Leader” Award 4 times in a row.
John Browne, Baron Browne of Maddingley served as BP's CEO from 1995 until 2007. When he took the helm, the company was called British Petroleum. The re-branding to BP was only one of several major accomplishments during his tenure. He also engineered mergers with Amoco, Arco, and oversaw major exploration projects around the globe.
Lord Browne is the former President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and has served on the boards of Intel, Daimler-Benz and Goldman Sachs. He is the author of five books, including The Glass Closet: Why Coming Out is Good for Business, which is what we disussed in most detail today. He holds a BA in Physics from St. John’s College, Cambridge and earned a Masters at Stanford.
See a list of countries that still have the death penalty for homosexuality here.
Learn more about Lord Browne on his Twitter feed and his foundation’s website.
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Topics covered in this episode include: business, leadership, executives, oil, fossil fuels, LGBT, homosexuality, inclusivity, diversity, inclusion, homophobia, gay employees
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