The study, led by Dr Caroline Essers and published in the International Small Business journal, interviewed 11 LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs leading small Dutch firms to establish how their identities impacted their experiences working in business.
The researchers found that each participant involved in the study found themselves subjected to sexual discrimination in the workplace before they launched their own businesses. “They felt they needed to hide their sexual identity in their former careers, to avoid possible barriers and negative employment consequences, and believed that becoming self-employed would enable them to express their authentic self,” said Dr Luke Fletcher from the University of Bath’s School of Management.
Analysis showed that LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs were likely to have negative experiences with gender stereotyping, and faced discrimination in a day-to-day business environment.
However, researchers found that overcoming the challenges of coming out and being gay or lesbian had helped the LGBTQIA+ business leaders to strengthen their emotional capabilities, empathy and social consciousness which, in turn, strengthened their entrepreneurial capability and brought a sense of empowerment.
Despite this, a more tailored support for those who identify as LGBTQIA+ in business was needed, concluded the study.