Burberry's Christopher Bailey—the first openly gay CEO of a FTSE 100 company—has come top in a new report ranking the world's top LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) business leaders.
Other top-10 names on the list, which was compiled by OUTstanding, a networking group for LGBT executives, included HSBC U.K. CEO Antonio Simoes and Nike Global Chief Information Officer Anthony Watson. Alex Schultz, Facebook's vice-president for growth, also featured.
OUTstanding also compiled a list of the top 20 "straight allies", which Virgin's Richard Branson topped, and Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg featured in.
Business leaders who made the lists were nominated by peers and colleagues, and rated against five criteria. These included an individual's seniority and influence, as well as questions such as: "What activities have you undertaken to make the workplace a more welcoming place for LGBT individuals?"
OUTstanding noted that close to 25 percent of those in this year's ranking worked within the "traditionally less LGBT friendly" industries of banking and financial services.
The networking group also said that overall, the technology industry had made "strong progress" this year, with almost three times the number of tech employees on its list compared with 2013. This follow criticism of the sector for its lack of diversity, after companies including Yahoo, Google and Apple published their workplace demographics. In a letter accompanying Apple's findings, CEO Tim Cook said he was "not satisfied" with the figures and called for more to be done.
HSBC's Simoes said it made business sense for employees to feel comfortable "in their own skin" at work.
"The more an organisation creates and maintains an open culture, the better people will perform," he said in a statement. "That is the true mark of meritocracy. Only what you deliver and how you do it should count: 'if you are good, you play'".
OUTstanding said there was still more to be done, with over 40 percent of LGBT employees not comfortable coming out at work, according to research from the Center for Talent Innovation last year. Meanwhile, a transgender discrimination survey from 2011 found that 90 percent of transgender employees had experienced harassment at work.
"Self-disclosure is best for employees and for the businesses that support them," OUTstanding founder Suki Sandhu said in a statement. "We need publically visible role models in business to show that the workplace welcomes all talented people, regardless of their backgrounds or identities."