Is This the Right Time to Come Out

Topics: Sexual orientation, LGBT, Coming out Pages: 15 (5588 words) Published: August 26, 2013

EBSCOhost: Is this the right time to come out?


Title: Is this the right time to come out? By: Williamson, Alistair D., Harvard Business Review, 00178012, Jul/Aug1993, Vol. 71, Issue 4 Database: Business Source Complete

Is this the right time to come out?


American Accent

Section: Case Study Corporate culture is traditional. The star employee is gay and wants to bring his partner to a company/client function. George Campbell, assistant vice president in mergers and acquisitions at Kirkham McDowell Securities, a St. Louis underwriting and financial advisory firm, looked up as Adam Lawson, one of his most promising associates, entered his office. Adam, 29 years old, had been with the firm for only two years but had already distinguished himself as having great potential. Recently, he had helped to bring in an extremely lucrative deal, and in six weeks, he and several other associates would be honored for their efforts at the firm's silver anniversary dinner. As Adam closed the door and sat down, he said, "George, I'd like to talk to you about the banquet. I've thought about this very carefully, and I want you to know that I plan to bring my partner, Robert Collins, as my escort." George was taken aback. "Well, Adam," he said, "I don't quite know what to say. I have to be honest with you; I'm a little surprised. I had no idea that you were gay. I would never have guessed." He looked at Adam for clues on how to proceed: his subordinate did seem nervous but not defiant or hostile. Though only a 50-person operation, Kirkham McDowell had long since secured its status as one of the region's leading corporate financial advisers. The firm's client roster included established and successful regional companies as well as one of the country's largest defense contractors, a very conservative company for which the firm managed part of an… 1/11


EBSCOhost: Is this the right time to come out?

impressive pension portfolio. Representatives of Kirkham McDowell's major clients and many of the area's most influential political and business leaders were expected to attend the banquet. All this raced through George's mind as he asked Adam, "Why do you want to do this? Why do you want to mix your personal and professional lives?" "For the same reason that you bring your wife to company social events," Adam replied. A look of confusion flickered across George's face while Adam continued. "Think about it for a moment, George. Success in this business depends in great part on the relationships you develop with your clients and the people you work with. An important part of those relationships is letting people know about your life away from the office, and that includes the people who are important to you. Some of the other associates already know Robert. Whenever his schedule permits, he accompanies me when I'm invited by one of my colleagues to have dinner with his or her spouse. Granted, that isn't very often -- Robert is a corporate attorney, and his work is very demanding -- but he joins me whenever he can." "But, Adam, a wife isn't the same thing as a --" "It is the same thing, George. Robert and I have made a commitment to each other. We have been together for almost five years now, and I would feel very uncomfortable telling him that I was going to a major social event alone -- on a weekend, no less." "Well, I'm sure you'd agree that it wouldn't be appropriate for an associate to bring a date -someone he barely knows -- to such an event." "Come on, George. I think you know me well enough to realize that I have better judgment than that. If Robert and I had known each other for only six months, I wouldn't be having this conversation with you right now. But, as I said, we've been together for over five years!" George thought for a moment....
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