When Angela Ahrendts announced she was stepping down from Burberry and Christopher Bailey was named CEO, there was one topic du jour: whether Bailey, the brains behind the designs, could master the intricacies of running a business?
The fact that there was very little discussion about Bailey, an openly gay man, taking the helm of a global company, highlighted some of the big steps made in workplace diversity.
However, activists point out there are still many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees who feel they can't be open about their sexual orientation at work.
Out On The Street, an organization that brings together major Wall Street firms to create a network of LGBT business leaders, is hoping to reverse that trend. The organization held a summit in Hong Kong Thursday on workplace diversity in Asia. Todd Sears, the founder of Out On The Street, said the event generated a huge level of interest with 19 banks participating in the event.
According to Sears, there are currently no "out" CEOs among publicly-traded U.S. companies. "There are regional CEOs, and CEOs of smaller companies who are out. We're going to see more and more on that regional level, and I would be shocked if in five years we didn't have more openly gay global CEOs," Sears said.
While there are few "out" CEOs, there are still prominent LGBT business leaders. On October 22, the U.K.-based organization OUTstanding In Business launched its inaugural top 50 LGBT leaders, which placed HSBC's head of U.K. banking, Antonio Simoes, at the top of the list.
But Simon Feeke, head of workplace at LGBT charity Stonewall, argues that while companies stress their gay-friendly credentials, there is little evidence to back their claims up. "We hear anecdotally of job-seekers saying to their prospective organizations, 'If you're so diverse and inclusive, can you point to gay people in senior positions at your company?'," he told CNBC.
The problem may stem from the problems key figures have faced in the past when dealing with their sexuality in the business community.
(Read more: When businesses take a stand on gay marriage)