HR & Management

Beyond the closet: Why harnessing the power of LGBT+ entrepreneurs is important for our economy

3 min read

03 April 2018

We all know that developing and nurturing new business start-ups is critical for the success of our economy, not just in terms of financially but also socially and culturally. But what we are not so good at is focusing on the value and power that diversity within the entrepreneurial community can have.

Prior research and evidence has highlighted the benefits of entrepreneurial activities for marginalised groups of people, for example ethnic minorities and refugees, as well as for women and the aptly nicknamed “mumpreneurs”.

However, what we don’t know much about is the experiences and benefits of entrepreneurship for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) people.

Recently a report by StartOut, an LGBT+ entrepreneurs network in the US, revealed that although LGBT+ entrepreneurs are more likely to choose to start and run their businesses in areas that are more LGBT+ friendly, over a third still choose not to reveal their identity when trying to raise investment and capital. This may be for many reasons, for example some may feel it’s completely irrelevant, whereas for others they may fear negative consequences for themselves and their business if they do “come out”.

But, whatever the reason, we should all be able to express who we are and who we want to be in a business situation. People do business with other people and so it is important that everyone feels able to show their true personality and what makes them human when running a business.

With this in mind, researchers at Aston University and the University of Sussex (UK) are conducting an online survey to better understand the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) people in business and enterprise in the UK.

The study is being funded by the British Academy and will be used to inform practices that enable the growth of LGBT+ entrepreneurs in the economy.

It is one of the first studies to go beyond LGBT+ discrimination or being “out” in the workplace to focusing more on wellbeing and behaviour, such as being authentically yourself as an entrepreneur.

We are particularly looking for more responses of LGBT+ people who own and run their own business, social enterprise or consultancy – either on the side or full-time.

We want to get as much representation as possible from the LGBT+ community and although it is UK-focused, we are also keen on hearing from LGBT+ people in other countries.

The survey takes around 15 minutes to complete and you will have opportunity of winning a £50 love2shop voucher! It will be open until end of May 2018. To take part you must identify as an LGBT+ person.

To access the survey click here.

We are developing a programme of research around LGBT+ empowerment, entrepreneurship and leadership. Our aim is to enable LGBT+ people to thrive at work and in business. For more information about the project or if you would like to keep updated with our research and engagement activities please email l.fletcher1@aston.ac.uk

Luke Fletcher is Lecturer in Human Resource Management at Aston University who specialises in understanding what engages people to give their best at work and how they can express that engagement in the workplace.