Most LGBTQ+ founders and investors hide their gender or sexuality

Fresh questions over a lack of diversity in the tech sector emerged today after a report found 75% of LGBTQ+ founders and nearly 80% of investors withhold their identity from their peers in the ecosystem, potentially resulting in worse health conditions and lower cognitive performance.

Just ⅓ of investors who said they were taking action to support ‘diverse’ founders were doing anything to support LGBTQ+ founders, a report by Proud Ventures found, while some founders shared shocking examples of direct queerphobia and discrimination they faced as part of their fundraising process.

Gay founders raised 2.25x more than bisexual and 22x more than lesbian founders and cis men founders raised 2.5x more than cis women founders and 10x more than trans founders.

Edward Kandel, investor at Founders Factory and a founding member of Proud Ventures said: “Recent research has shown us that concealment is a real tax on LGBTQ+ people.

“Academic studies have found increased concealment comes at a cost to an individual’s wellbeing with a greater risk of depression, anxiety, and poorer cognitive and physical health. We need to change the script and create an open and welcoming ecosystem where people should not have to hide who they are.”

Nick Telson, a venture capital investor who founded DesignMyNight, told the Standard investors must take action to make all entrepreneurs feel comfortable in their own skin when they are pitching ideas to raise funds.

“In the VC world they have this cookie cutter approach to what a founder looks like and sounds like, and that’s why we have fewer people who are women, who are people of colour and who are LGBT.

“The majority of investors are straight white males and normally of an older generation so it doesn’t surprise me that founders come across as more small c conservative if that’s what they want to see or hear.

“With my team I have always been open about being gay, but I did conceal it with a lot of my clients…who would often ask leading questions like ‘do you have a wife or a girlfriend [so] people don’t feel comfortable pitching.”

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