Pride month is held every June in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots; a demonstration against a police raid which took place in the early hours of 28th June 1969. This particular uprising of the LGBT community paved the way for the gay liberation movement.
Although nearly 51 years have passed since the events of that night at the Stonewall Inn, it remains important to celebrate the success and achievements of LGBTQ+ persons in their triumph for equality; something a number are still fighting for today.
In this blog, we discuss just some of the many LGBTQ+ success stories in the tech and business worlds. Check out our list below:
1. Andy Woodfield – Partner at PwC
Featuring in The OUTstanding Top 100 Role Model LGBT+ executives 20191, Andy has achieved a lot in his time at PwC. As well as a Partner, he is also the UK Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, and created the company’s first inclusive business network, GLEE@PwC. This stemmed from the need to educate non-LGBT+ people to make employee networks more effective in making workplaces more inclusive and welcoming.
For many years, Andy also delivered the OUTNext programme around the world to establish the first global curriculum for the next generation of LGBT leaders. This ultimately led to PwC Shine, a global network which strives to ensure LGBT voices are heard both within the firm and wider business environment. Andy is a regular public speaker, having spoken at the United Nations HQ in New York about Gender Equality and participating in two TED Talks.2. He is due to publish a book called This is Your Moment; a practical guide for those facing a transition point in their lives or careers3.
2. Kate Craig-Wood – Co-founder & MD at Memset
Next on our list is the multiple award-winning British IT entrepreneur, Kate Craig-Wood. In 2012, she was listed fourth in the 25 most influential women in UK IT. Before completing an MSc in Biomedical Science, she taught herself numerous programming languages and internet technologies4. Since then, she has held various prominent positions in the tech industry; most notably as the co-founder of Memset, which provides web hosting servers and solutions. The organisation also became the first tech company in the UK to become carbon neutral over a decade ago5.
As a transgender woman, Kate is also known for her transsexual activism. She is a trustee and an executive committee member of the Gender Identity Research and Education Society, and focuses on improving medical care in the UK for young trans people.
Credit: Public Technology (sourced from Kate Craig-Wood)
3. Tamara Littleton – CEO of The Social Element & Polpeo
Another LGBTQ+ success story is Tamara Littleton, the CEO of global social media agency, The Social Element. Back in 2002 when she founded the company, Tamara aspired to challenge the conventional agency model and succeeded through a remote working method, which remains innovative to this day6. The business expanded in 2013 when she co-founded Polpeo, a social media simulator to help brands prepare for potential online crises.
Speaking to We Are Tech Women, Tamara explained her main challenge has always been building her own confidence, but is passionate and tenacious. She is proud of her biggest achievement to date; running two companies simultaneously, and is committed to helping other women scale their businesses. Tamara focuses particularly on LGBTQ leaders, as an out leader in the community herself, and is part of Series Q which supports that vision. She has also featured in the Sunday Times Tech 100 list.
Credit: Prolific London
4. Anthony Watson – Founder & CEO at TBOL
When it comes to impressive résumés, Anthony Watson is no exception, having held numerous senior positions in the tech and business industries throughout his career. He was the co-founder of trading platform, Uphold, and is still a member of the board of directors today. It’s become one of the fastest growing FinTech payment companies in the world, having gone from 3,000 users across a handful of countries to operating across 186 countries and servicing over 1,000,000 users7. Anthony then became founder and CEO of TBOL, who are currently busy pioneering the future of finance. The company are currently working quietly on their offering, but are looking forward to revealing more in due course.
In terms of LGBTQ+ activism, Anthony has had several roles including being the first non-US citizen to join the board of directors for the American media monitoring organisation, GLAAD, which works to accelerate acceptance. He is also an ambassador for Stonewall, and a chair of the European Diversity Awards8.
5. Hayley Sudbury – Founder & CEO at WERKIN
After building a career in Financial Services, Hayley Sudbury founded WERKIN out of recognition that there weren’t many role models in the industry like her: a gay woman9. WERKIN strives to raise visibility of underrepresented talent, including the LGBTQ+ community, people of colour, women, and people with disabilities10. This is done by developing technology that makes workplaces more inclusive through mentorship, encouraging employees to bring their true selves to their work.
Hayley herself has made a conscious effort to find talent from underrepresented groups, with her team now being made up of 33% LGBT+, 60% women, and 40% ethnic minority individuals. Further to this, Hayley and WERKIN also support organisations that promote female advancement in tech. For example, Lesbians Who Tech and the Stemettes11; the CEO of the latter featured in our Inspirational Women in Tech and the Media blog.
6. Juergen Maier – Former CEO of Siemens
After settling in the UK, Juergen studied Production Engineering at what is now known as Nottingham Trent University12. Following this, he went on to hold various senior positions at Siemens, ultimately becoming CEO before retiring five years later. Amongst his many accolades, he is a fellow at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), and has received numerous Honorary Doctorates from institutions such as the University of Salford. Insider Magazine named him the most influential business person in North West England in 2019.
The British-Austrian businessman originally remained secretive about his sexuality in the workplace, fearing it would cause problems in his career13. Despite that, he has spoke out in recent years regarding his struggles and worries as a gay man, and he now speaks against homophobia in the workplace. In fact, it was Juergen’s conversation about the LGBTQ+ community at Siemens which led to a group of colleagues forming the support network, SPARK.
Credit: Brid Spa (sourced from BusinessLive)
7. Meghan Stabler – VP at BigCommerce
The last successful LGBTQ+ person in our blog, but by no means least, is Meghan Stabler. Originally born in the UK14, she moved to the US in 1990 to work in tech. Before transitioning over 16 years ago, Meghan was aware of the risks that being a trans person posed in terms of her professional and personal life at the time. However, she is now VP of Global Product Marketing and Communications at BigCommerce, and advocates for and drives initiatives for diversity and inclusion throughout the company.
Meghan has also won various awards throughout her career. To name a few, Most Innovative Woman in Computer Science, the MAKERSwomen Award, and the President’s Award for Distinguished Community Leadership. She has also fought long and hard for trans equality by speaking up at legislative hearings on the matter, including at the Supreme Court. Meghan’s reasoning behind her activism is so she can leave a legacy of change in society15.
Credit: Yahoo! Finance (sourced from BigCommerce)
1 The OUTstanding Top 100 Role Model LGBT+ Executives 2019 (Yahoo! Finance 30th October 2019)
2 Andy Woodfield (PwC 28th May 2020)
3 AndyWoodfield.com (AndyWoodfield.com 28th May 2020)
4 Kate Craig-Wood (Wikipedia 28th May 2020)
5 82 inspirational and influential women from Surrey’s past and present you should know about (SurreyLive 8th March 2020)
6 Supporting Women in Tech (We Are Tech Women 29th May 2020)
7 Anthony Watson (LinkedIn 29th May 2020)
8 Anthony G. Watson (Wikipedia 29th May 2020)
9 Top 10 LGBTQ+ People in Tech (Enterprise Management 360 29th October 2019)
10 WERKIN – This is our Story (WERKIN 1st June 2020)
11 Hayley Sudbury (We Are Tech Women 1st June 2020)
12 Jürgen Maier (Wikipedia 2nd June 2020)
13 Influential LGBT leaders in Tech (Diversity in Tech 2nd June 2020)
14 Meghan Stabler – My Story (The Personal Stories Project 3rd June 2020)
15 Meghan Stabler (Business-Equality 10th June 2019)
, updated 1st December 2021.