DowDupont Appoints Jim Fitterling As Company’s First Openly Gay CEO

“I am very excited and humbled to lead Dow into its next phase," says Fitterling, one of three out CEOs in the Fortune 500.

DowDuPont announced this week that COO Jim Fitterling will become the company’s new chief executive officer, making him of only a few out CEOs in the Fortune 500.

Fitterling, 56, replaces outgoing CEO Andrew Liveris, who is retiring after overseeing the merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont last August. Next year, DowDuPont will be split into three publicly-traded companies focusing on materials science, specialty products, and agriculture.

Fitterling will lead the materials science company, which will be the largest of the three. “I am very excited and humbled to lead Dow into its next phase of growth,” he said in a statement.

A graduate of the University of Missouri, Fitterling has worked for Dow Chemical since 1984, but only came out as gay at work in 2014, the same year as Apple’s Tim Cook.

They join a small number of openly LGBT CEOs, including Qantas Airline’s Alan Joyce and Lloyd’s of London CEO Inga Beales, who is bisexual.

Not much is known about Fitterling’s private life or his political leanings. On Twitter, he tweets a lot about Dow and NASCAR, but he retweeted posts against conversion therapy and for gun reform.

Since coming out, he’s gotten involved with PIMCO Pride and Out Leadership’s “Out on the Street” summit, and was keynote speaker at Linked-In’s gathering of 100 LGBT leaders. The Financial Times ranked Fitterling No. 3 on its list of Top 100 Leading LGBT+ Executives.

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Last year, he received Dow’s “Doing A World of Good” medal for his dedication to safety and workplace diversity. In a statement, Dow credited Fitterling with pushing the company to hire its first-ever chief inclusion officer.

Fitterling also mentors LGBT employees, “sharing his insights and striving to make a personal difference with each colleague.”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.