Land O’Lakes named Beth Ford as the company’s first female CEO this week, making her the first openly gay woman CEO at a Fortune 500 company, Fortune reported.
"I am extraordinarily grateful to work at a company that values family, including my own," Ford said in a statement to CNN. "The Board chose the person they felt best met the criteria to drive success in the business. I realize this is an important milestone for many people and I am pleased to share it."
"I made a decision long ago to live an authentic life and if my being named CEO helps others do the same, that's a wonderful moment," she added.
The network noted that the number of number of women leading Fortune 500 companies varies: Marissa Mayer’s departure from Yahoo and Irene Rosenfeld’s exit at Mondelez helped drive a 25 percent drop in the number of female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies between 2017 and 2018.
CNN reported that there are female LGBTQ CEOs at companies like Inga Beale at Lloyd's of London and Martine Rothblatt, head of United Therapeutics, but there were none before Ford leading Fortune 500 businesses.
Deena Fidas, the director of workplace equality at the Human Rights Campaign, told CNN that Ford’s hiring can help LGBTQ workers become more visible at a time when nearly half of LGBTQ Americans having not come out at work.
"This is not a story of someone getting into the higher echelons of leadership and then coming out, this is someone walking into this role with her full self,” Fidas said.