As the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook's job is one of the most coveted on the planet. Coincidentally, like any other executive position, it's a very stressful one, and it may have just become that much more difficult for him.
In a segment on Friday's broadcast of the CNBC show "Squawk on the Street," New York Times columnist and CNBC contributor James Stewart was featured at the round table.
The conversation changed from inflation to Stewart's most recent column about being gay in corporate America. Specifically, the column is about John Browne, the former BP chief who recently released a book about his time as being a closeted leader at a prominent company. Browne abandoned his post in 2007 after a tabloid outed him as gay. He recently wrote a book about the ordeal, thus making him one of the few executives—if not the first—to acknowledge he is gay, which served as the inspiration for Stewart's column.
So what part does Cook play in all of this?
Well, none directly, but in talking about his column, Stewart said, "I reached out to many [gay CEOs]...not one would allow to be named in the column."
To which co-anchor Simon Hobbs responded, "I think Tim Cook is fairly open about the fact that he's gay at the head of Apple, isn't he?"
Almost immediately, he realizes the gaffe he made. (See the video below for the full exchange.)
The irony of it all is Stewart's column makes a case for CEOs to be themselves, since it's the bottom line that truly matters in business anyway.
Neither the Squawk Street Twitter account nor Cook has commented about what took place on the show. Cook has spoken passionately about equality in the workplace but mainly has kept his personal life private. Cook has been recognized by Out Magazine as the most powerful LGBT person in the world and poignantly mentioned gay rights in a speech he gave at the U.N. in 2013.
Maybe, as Stewart says, it is not or should not be a big deal. On the other hand, it could be the preface to a monumental moment in corporate America.