Three-quarters of LGTBQ+ UK startup founders (75%) refrain from disclosing their sexuality or gender identity, according to a new data report from the UK LGTBQ+ collective Proud Ventures.
A reluctance to disclose sexual orientation and non-binary gender identities was mirrored in the investors' data, which showed almost 80% of investors practised concealment.
The most common reason for concealment was that founders didn't see disclosure as relevant to their situation (45%). However, just over a quarter said sharing made them feel uncomfortable (27%), while 18% believed it would harm their fundraising efforts.
Proud Ventures claims this is the first time the UK venture ecosystem has gained a snapshot into LGBTQ+ experiences, support, and inclusiveness.
Concealment could lead to LGBQT+ founders and investment partners suffering from health deterioration, Proud Ventures added.
The report also suggested gay women or non-binary stakeholders faced the most barriers to inclusion, including discrimination. Cisgender gay men found it easier to raise venture capital than lesbians or non-binary female founders, while the report also concluded more "out" founders raised less capital on average.
Around 80% of investors reported taking steps to increase diversity of investments, but of those just 26% said they were specifically working to improve LGBTQ+ outcomes.
Asher Ismail, CEO and co-founder of Uncapped, argued the industry had suffered from a lack of data on LGBTQ+ experiences.
Ismail said: "Attempts to engage with or support the LGBTQ+ startup community have been held back by the repeated question: is there actually any problem to solve?
"With the release of this report, the data clearly highlights the challenges experienced and opportunities for change. Sharing the findings and telling our stories is a call to action for the tech and VC industries to work towards a more inclusive future.”