This past week, Land O’Lakes elected Beth Ford as the company’s first female CEO marking the first time an openly gay woman has been CEO of a Fortune 500 company (fortune.com). This past year, Fortune 500 companies saw a 25% drop in female CEO’s with the exit of Marissa Mayer from Yahoo and Irene Rosenfeld from Mondelez. However, for Beth Ford to be elected amid this decrease is a monumental moment in LGBTQ+ history.
In response to this news, Beth Ford said:
“I am extraordinarily grateful to work at a company that values family, including my own. The board chose the person they felt best met the criteria to drive success in the business. I realize this is an important milestone for many people and I am pleased to share it. I made a decision long ago to live an authentic life and if my being named CEO helps others do the same, that’s a wonderful moment.” – money.cnn.com
Her statement shows us that her intent is clear, she wanted to be an out lesbian woman in order to inspire others to be their best selves.
CNN reports that while there have been female LGBTQ+ CEO’s at other companies, this marks the first Fortune 500 business to do so. Deena Fidas from the Human Rights Campaign highlights that in hiring Ford, it can help LGBTQ+ workers become more visible within the workplace in a time where nearly half of LGBTQ+ Americans are not out at work. He said:
“This is not a story of someone getting into the higher echelons of leadership and then coming out, this is someone walking into this role with her full self.” – money.cnn.com
It is important to make the distinction that Beth Ford walked into the job as a lesbian woman, she was hired for who she was- breaking all barriers. At a time like this, when history is being made, it is inspiring to see that there is a change in the current and the waters are heading somewhere more inclusive and open to all.