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Powerful leader talks about equality. Encourages other powerful leaders to do the same.

He runs an AFX top 100 company, he’s openly gay, and he’s just made some powerful remarks about equality in business. We just hope other leaders in Australia take their lead from Alan Joyce.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is an extremely powerful guy. The Irish-born businessman earns more than $5 million every year running the country’s largest airline, which has more than a whopping 35,000 employees.

This week, Mr Joyce using that power for a good cause: speaking out in the name of equality.

Alan Joyce gay rights
“It’s really about equality,”Mr Joyce said. “One of the reasons why I love [Australia] is it’s about a fair go.” (Photo: Fairfax)

Mr Joyce told Fairfax Media  he felt a responsibility as a business leader to speak out in favour of equality, talking about “how important it is for a business leader … to express our views on things”.

“It’s really about equality,”Mr Joyce said. “One of the reasons why I love [Australia] is it’s about a fair go.”

“As I’ve gone and talked about my sexuality, and talked about diversity in general, I’ve had people coming up to me in the business community and saying that their son, their daughter is finding it tough [being gay], even in this day and age,” he added.

You might want to watch: This video turns the argument against marriage equality on its head.

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Mr Joyce, who has shared his life with an unnamed New Zealand man in Sydney since 1999, told Fairfax he’s an advocate of diversity generally in business — not just for LGBT people but for Indigenous Australians and women.

This morning, Mr Joyce addressed an Australian Marriage Equality corporate breakfast meeting, where he elaborated on his powerful message.

“(W)e have over 250 different nationalities working for us, and 50 languages spoken,” he said of Qantas. “We’ve got a huge diverse workforce of 8,000 people – and we have a huge gay community within that workforce.”

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According to SameSame, he also argued that same-sex marriage was vitally important to corporate Australia.

“We want all the people who come to work every day to feel equal. To feel that they can contribute equally in the organisation, and in the country. So any piece of legislation that still says ‘you’re different’, ‘you’re second class’, ‘you don’t have the same rights as everybody else’ is bad for everybody’s position,” he said.

“As a gay man running the biggest iconic brand in the country, I believe Australia is a meritocracy. I don’t know many countries in the world where you would say that happening – the national airline, this iconic Australian brand… I’m Irish, and I’m gay, and I run this company,” Mr Joyce continued.

“And when you think of the history of this country, being one of the first to give the vote to women, our progressive nature has somehow gone missing on this issue [of marriage equality].”

CEOs from organisations including SBS, St Vincent’s Hospital, Virgin Mobile and St George were present at the meeting, as were representatives from Google, Boston Consulting Group, NAB, and American Express, Fairfax reports.

Bravo, Mr Joyce.

A list of corporations that support marriage equality in Australia can be found here; you can also add your own business at that link.

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