Lord John Browne spent 40 years working for BP and in 1995 he became CEO. Over the next 12 years he transformed the firm into one of the world’s largest companies and gained enormous respect internationally as a business leader.
But throughout his career he never told colleagues or friends that he was gay. He spent four decades living a double life hiding his sexuality and avoiding situations where he might be exposed.
This was increasingly difficult as he became more recognizable and his desperate attempts to live a secret life led him to make some very bad judgements. It eventually led to a British newspaper outing him as a gay man in 2007. He resigned immediately as the head of BP and left the company that had become his family.
Life did not end as he feared it would. People wrote letters of support both to him and the national press and it became clear that the best of life was to come. In recent years those closest to Lord Browne encouraged him to share his story more widely in the hope that it would help others.
Lord Browne had already authored a memoir Beyond Business and the popular science book Seven Elements that Changed the World.
But in 2013 he began research on a new book. The Glass Closet was published in June 2014.In it, he offers incontrovertible evidence that it’s better for you, your business and the economy when you bring your authentic self to work.
The book spells out the significant hidden costs of hidden lives. It challenges individuals and companies to create workplace environments that get LGBTI inclusion right. And in particular, it calls on corporate leaders to consider inclusion and diversity in every business decision they take.
The book inspired business leaders and LGBTI people around the world. Browne has become a major advocate for LGBTI inclusion in business, frequently speaking and giving interviews to encourage corporate leaders and challenge them to do more
The Glass Closet had become a movement.
Browse The Glass Closet section of Gay Star Business for workplace stories of triumph and links to further resources that can help you and your company.