Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has publically come out, saying not only that he’s proud to be gay, but also that he considers being gay ‘among the greatest gifts God has given [him].’

In the article for Bloomberg BusinessWeek, he says: ‘For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.’

He continued ‘that being gay had given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day’, adding: ‘It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry.’

Cook was noticed marching with hundreds of other Apple employees at San Francisco Pride earlier this year, with several of them taking selfies with him. The company also produced a promotional video promoting their commitment to LGBT rights.

In February, Cook personally challenged the governor of his home state of Alabama to veto a law which would allow employers to use religious beliefs to discriminate against the LGBT community. At the time, Apple was about to open a major glass plant in the state which would create 2,000 new jobs.

And in December 2013, he gave a speech discussing LGBT issues and his own experiences with discrimination.

Even before Cook was in charge, Apple was a keen advocate of LGBT rights, donating $100,000 to a campaign to stop a Californian law which would have outlawed equal marriage.

Suki Sandhu is CEO of OUTstanding, a not-for-profit professional network for LGBT executives and their allies, called Cook’s coming out ‘amazing news’, adding: ‘There is no stronger diversity message to send than the CEO of the world’s most valuable company saying it makes sense to be open and authentic about who you are in the workplace. Coming hot on the heels of the appointment of Christopher Bailey as the first openly gay CEO of a FTSE 100 company, it shows that attitudes are changing.

‘I wholeheartedly welcome Tim’s decision and truly hope it will go some way to inspire the next generation of LGBT role models and leaders to embrace who they are, break through the “glass closet”, and pave the way for change in the corporate world.’