Most LGBTQ+ founders and investors hide their gender or sexuality, report finds

Sign reads: Hello my pronouns are

In the UK tech industry, 75 per cent of LGBTQ+ founders and 80 per cent of investors do not feel safe sharing their gender and sexual identity with their peers, new research has found. 

The LGBTQ+ Founder Report was carried out by Proud Ventures (PV), a UK collective of LGBTQ+ investors, founders and venture capitalists, and surveyed 61 investors and 130 founders. 

The first-of-its kind research sought to address the fact that “any attempt to engage with or support the LGBTQ+ community in tech or VC has been held back by the repeated question of whether there is actually any problem to solve”. 

Data in the report revealed that many people in the LGBTQ+ community, be it founders or investors, “do not feel comfortable to share their identities with investors and other stakeholders”. 

The result of this concealment can potentially have an impact on LGBTQ+ people’s health and wellbeing, as they feel forced to separate part of their identity. 

Only 25 per cent of founders explained they were comfortable to share their identity with every investor they met, a significant majority (75 per cent) of LGBTQ+ founders were not. 

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Of these founders, 34 per cent stated they didn’t feel comfortable sharing their LGBTQ+ identity with any investor at all, 25 per cent said they only felt comfortable to share with a few investors, 11 per cent noted they only feel comfortable sharing with an investor after a few calls and five per cent said they would only feel comfortable with those investors already on their cap table.

Of the 80 per cent of investors who hide their LGBTQ+ identity, half said they would only share their identity with another investor after meeting a few times, 17 per cent stated they never would share their identity with another investor and 11 per cent revealed they would only share the information with investors they are closest to or who are on their team.

Of those surveyed, 45 per cent said they thought their identity was not relevant to the situation, 27 per cent) revealed they did not feel comfortable enough to share it, 18 per cent noted they felt sharing could harm their efforts at fundraising and 10 per cent said they didn’t think it could help them. 

The report outlined the negative impacts such concealment can have on LGBTQ+ people’s health and wellbeing, including memory and cognition. 

“Clear data has drawn a causational link between LGBTQ+ people practising increasing concealment and worse health outcomes,” the document reads. 

Funds raised are not equal in the LGBTQ+ community

The survey found gay founders raised 2.25 times more than bisexual founders and 22 times more than lesbian founders. Cis men founders raised 2.5 times more than cis women founders and 10 times more than trans founders.

Interestingly, the research revealed a correlation between LGB people who were more open about their identity and greater capital raised. 

However, this was not the same for people who are open about their gender identity, with research suggesting that founders who were more open about their gender identity raised less and generated less revenue. 

Several recommendations were put forth by the report, including investors publicly showing support for LGBTQ+ founders, having teams share their pronouns publicly and hiring more diverse investment teams.