Out Loehmann's CEO Steve Newman will appear on CBS' Undercover Boss this Friday, October 4 when he goes undercover as a new employee in his store's lingerie department, distribution center and also takes on the roles of a secret shopper and visual merchandiser. We spoke with him this week about his experience on the show and why he believes in the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA).
GLAAD: What made you decide to tell your story, as a CEO and gay man, on Undercover Boss and what can viewers expect from your episode?
STEVE NEWMAN: I decided to tell my story in order to be a role model and an example of how there should be no excuses or reasons to not fulfill one's dreams and aspirations. Professionally, it was a rare opportunity to see what's really going on, as I was completely unrecognizable to the associates. I'm sure that viewers will enjoy seeing me trying to process orders within the required time limit, helping female customers in our intimates department, or working as a personal shopper.
GLAAD: What was your biggest lesson learned from your time on Undercover Boss? Did your experience surprise you?
SN: My key takeaway from the Undercover Boss experience is how hardworking our employees are, and just how much they care about the Loehmann's brand and its success. Spending time undercover really helped me to understand the company from the associates' perspective.
GLAAD: Why do you feel it is important for you, as a CEO of a major company and a successful businessman, to be out professionally?
SN: I don't view it as being important to be out - being gay is just who I am, and it's important to me to be authentic and real, always.
GLAAD: The public is often unaware of the lack of legal protections from LGBT employment discrimination, putting people at risk based on their sexual orientation in 29 states and gender identity in 33 states. From your perspective as a CEO, do you feel such protections are important to ensure employees can keep their job and don't risk being fired simply for being out?
SN: Like any other CEO, I want equal rights and protections for all employees, period.
GLAAD: What do you hope viewers can take away from your story?
SN: I really hope that viewers take away that regardless of what field you're in, hard work and perseverance pays off and is critical in any career path.
Watch a clip of the episode below and catch Undercover Boss on CBS this Friday, October 4 at 8:00 p.m..