There can be little doubt that tech has been instrumental in increasing acceptance and support for the LGBTQ+ community. Digital apps, websites, and forums have helped to foster community, provide safe spaces for learning and education, and even promote safety. Tech-friendly cities like New York, Atlanta, Seattle, and San Francisco all stand as supportive hubs for LGBTQ+ professionals, and many within the community have found their professional place within the tech industry.
In a way, this is no surprise; after all, technology has long been associated with the advancement of social progress and dissemination of new norms, ideas, and expectations — and the progress we’ve seen in recent years is certainly inarguable.
This social progress has been achieved through tremendous collective effort and at least partially advanced by innovations that help LGBTQ+ people communicate with each other, build communities, and cultivate safe environments for people to openly be themselves. The social benefits to LGBTQ+ inclusion, equality, and acceptance are clearly evident; however, the business and economic benefits of an inclusive approach are also worth mentioning.
Policies that support LGBTQ+ inclusion have been linked to higher profitability, productivity, and value. Companies known for their inclusive and supportive policies for LGBTQ+ employees tend to have greater profitability and success in research and development. This is the case even when state anti-discrimination laws mandate protection for LGBTQ+ employees; the companies with proactive policies often do better on all levels. Inclusionary policies are also viewed positively by investors and typically correlate with improved recruitment and retention.
The tech sector has undoubtedly advanced equality and innovation. However, many LGBTQ+ tech workers still face barriers as well as opportunities.
According to the Tech Leavers Study, LGBTQ employees were among the most likely to be bullied at tech companies, with a full 20 percent reporting bullying on the job. The 2,000-person survey found that 24 percent of LGBTQ tech leavers had been exposed to public humiliation or embarrassment, while only 13 percent of respondents who were not LGBTQ said the same. Of those who decided to leave their companies, almost two-thirds of the LGBTQ professionals said that bullying was a reason for their choice.
Still, there is room for optimism. Countless businesses and industry leaders have stepped up to advocate for LGBTQ+ employees. Companies have established affinity groups for LGBTQ workers and interest groups in the community have received significant funding from tech industry leaders. Their efforts are instrumental to ensuring that the tech world becomes safer and more supportive for people of all sexual orientations and identities.
Below, we’ve listed some of the most inspiring, innovative individuals and organizations making a difference for the LGBTQ+ tech community.