LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs get leg-up from UK’s biggest business group in trailblazing new scheme

A person filling in a form at work.

LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs are to receive a boost as the UK’s biggest business group, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), launches its new digital LGBTQ+ hub.

The hub, entitled Let’s Grow Business Together, will include resources for small business owners and self-employed people to help encourage LGBTQ+ entrepreneurship, and promote inclusivity in workplaces.

As well as free resources like posters which FSB says will help to “show your customers, clients, and employees that you’re an LGBTQ+ friendly business”, the hub will include stories and advice from queer small business owners, for example inclusion specialist Ellie Lowther, who has discussed her experiences as a trans entrepreneur.

Some of the entrepreneurs and small businesses in the hub started their own businesses “in order to feel more comfortable being themselves and avoid the risk of discrimination or subconscious bias in a corporate workplace”, according to FSB.

Craig Beaumont, FSB Chief of External Affairs, explained: “We know small business owners value connecting to their peers and learning from shared experiences – something we see happening every day between our members in every local community across the UK.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and of course the rest of the community represented within the ‘+’, who become small business owners and the self-employed – often tell us: To be themselves, they wanted to work for themselves.”

The group has also opened up monthly queer networking events across the UK for self-employed people and small business owners.

FSB’s new hub has been backed by equalities minister Mike Freer, who said he hoped the initiative would “ensure real positive change” for queer people in business.

“People that are able to feel themselves at work are free to realise their full potential,” Freer said.

“The Let’s Grow Business Together digital hub will bring businesses together to share resources and expertise, celebrate LGBTQ+ entrepreneurship, and ensure real positive change for LGBTQ+ people in the workplace.”

The new resource hub comes as research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has found that 40 per cent of LGB workers and more than half (55 per cent) of trans workers have experienced workplace conflict and harassment, compared to 29 per cent of heterosexual, cisgender employees.

Meanwhile, a Stonewall study found that more than a third of LGBTQ+ staff in Britain (35 per cent) have hidden their sexuality or gender identity at work for fear of discrimination.

Beaumont added: “It is a sad reality that barriers, discrimination and subconscious bias are still faced by many in the LGBTQ+ community.

“The intention of FSB’s Let’s Grow Business Together digital hub and our new national LGBTQ+ business networking events is to support, celebrate and encourage LGBTQ+ entrepreneurship, as well as providing guidance for small firms more generally on ensuring they are and remain inclusive businesses.”