by Ray Hayes

From 2017 to 2018, female leadership at Fortune 500 companies dropped by 25 percent after several prominent female CEOs announced their retirement. With the limited amount of female leadership within the corporate world, it comes as no surprise that many women are fearful to reveal any part of themselves that may prevent them from high levels of success. Despite this truth, some women are still doing what they can to change the narrative surrounding the term “qualifications”. With that being said, Land O’Lakes recently made headlines announcing Beth Ford as their first female CEO. Ford is the first openly gay CEO to manage a Fortune 500 company.

Deena Fidas, director of workplace equality at the Human Rights Campaign, spoke about Ford’s recent appointment and how it could impact the LGBT community. “Her authentic leadership as an out lesbian is well-known in the LGBT corporate community, and the fact that she is assuming this role as an out lesbian sends an especially powerful message. 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.”

Fidas highlighted the fact that most gay employees are unable to come out to the co-workers or within the work environment. Ford’s hiring holds even more weight because she, unlike many, did not reenter the ‘closet’ in the professional arena. Ford’s hiring could pave the way for more women to speak out and reveal their true identities no matter what they may be. We support Ford in her future endeavors and would like to congratulate her on recent appointment.