BTL Staff Report
DETROIT – Ford Motor Company Vice Chairman Allan Gilmour is a featured speaker at the Fourteenth Annual Michigan Human Rights Campaign Dinner on Nov. 15.
Gilmour, the country’s highest ranking openly gay executive in a public company, has spoken widely about corporate America and its treatment of gays and lesbians in the workplace. Last year he told BTL, “I think it is clear in a lot of big companies that sexual orientation is less an issue. That’s not because they are big social justice organizations; that’s not what we’re here for. We specialize in cars and trucks,” said Gilmour, who said that corporations focus more and more on attracting a good talent pool of employees.
Gilmour came out publicly in 1995, after retiring from a 34 year career with the number two automaker. In May 2002, Gilmour was approached by Ford Chairman and Chief Executive William Clay Ford, Jr. who wooed Gilmour, Ford’s former boss and mentor, to return to the company. When Ford announced Gilmour’s appointment he described Gilmour as “one of the great leaders in Ford Motor Company history.”
Before he returned last year, Gilmour had spoken extensively, in numerous forums and discussions at UCLA, Harvard, and other gatherings at colleges, universities, corporate settings and community groups
“Before I returned to full-time work, I’d been a part of over 30 forums, PFLAG meetings, campus events, and things of that kind. Increasingly I came down to the same message; ‘What’s in this for business?’ and ‘How should gays and lesbians consider business, pro or con?’ We talked about the business purpose and the values that a variety of people can bring. This doesn’t mean we don’t need straight, white men. I’ve heard there are a lot of them. But the bottom line is that we need talent to build the business. It’s also about what gay and lesbian people want. They want to be valued, to be safe, to be accepted, tolerated, and ultimately, valued,” he explained.
Nationally and locally, and especially in greater Detroit, Gilmour is known as one of the most important philanthropists in the LGBT community. He was a founder and major benefactor to the HOPE Fund at the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, and his personal foundation, The Gilmour fund, makes grants to local and national LGBT groups.