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Pride Month: 6 Inspiring LGBTQ+ leaders in tech

 
As in many industries, there is a long history of discrimination and prejudice against the LGBTQ+ community in the tech world. 
 
In 1952, computer visionary and code-breaker Alan Turing was convicted for homosexuality.
 
In 1968, computer pioneer Lynn Conway was dismissed from IBM in the midst of her transition. Thankfully, IBM are now industry leaders in support of the LGBTQ+ community, having implemented comprehensive policies and support as early as 1984, and issued a public apology to Conway in 2020. 
 
Lynn Conway. LGBTQ+ pioneers of the tech industry. Bright Purple, Edinburgh
Lynn Conway
 
While significant progress has been made over the years to eradicate this discrimination, there is still a long way to go. The 2018 LGBT in Britain Work Report from Stonewall reported that 18% of the 5,000+ LGBT+ employees surveyed had been the target of negative comments or conduct, and that more than a third had hidden or disguised their sexual orientation due to fear of discrimination. 
 
This Pride Month, we wanted to shine a light on some of the LGBTQ+ leaders and activists of the tech industry, who continue to help shape and lead the way to a more inclusive tech industry alongside Conway and those who came before her.
 

Celebrating LGBTQ+ tech leaders.

 
Rachel Higham
Rachel was Managing Director of IT at BT for 5 years, before becoming Chief Information Officer at WPP in December 2020. 
 
Rachel Higham, BT. LGBTQ+ tech industry pioneers.
 
Alongside leading BT’s IT organisation, Rachel inspired her 5,500 colleagues to embrace inclusive design, lead BT’s award-winning TechWomen programme and has been a mentor and champion of many LGBTQ+ community projects and campaigns.
 
Rachel is also Chair of the Board of Trustees of FACT, a charity dedicated to using arts and technology to solve social issues.
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Belton Flournoy
In addition to being a Director in Protiviti’s Technology & Digital consulting practice, Belton is founder of Protiviti UK's LGBT+ group, which won best LGBT+ network in 2019 by the Inclusive Tech Alliance.
 
Belton Flournoy. LGBTQ+ tech pioneers. Bright Purple, Edinburgh.
 
Belton is also the co-founder of Pride in the City -  a Mayor backed initiative he founded in 2017 focused on increasing D&I within businesses. He has been shortlisted for multiple awards including number 18 on Yahoo Finance's Top 100 Future LGBT+ Leaders. 
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John Elliott
John is CTO of Colleagues and Operations at Sainsbury's Tech, and is the sponsor of the Sainsbury’s and Argos LGBT+ Colleague Network, the UK’s most active colleague network, attending 43 Prides in 2019. 
 
John Elliot. LGBTQ+ tech pioneers. Bright Purple, Edinburgh.
 
Passionate about creating LGBT+ inclusive workplaces in the UK Tech sector, John established an industry group to share best practices. John now directs his energy into advancing trans and non-binary inclusion, as embodied in the ‘Trans Pride’ room at Sainsbury’s London HQ, plus BAME and gender balance in the tech sector. 
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Hayley Sudbury
Hayley is the founder and CEO of Werkin, a mobile-app for tech-enabled mentorship. 
 
Hayley Sudbury, founder of Werkin. LGTBQ+ tech pioneers.
 
Hayley is a vocal advocate for LGBT and women inclusion, and believes that mentorship and role models can help tackle the "pipeline" problem that may prevent women and minority groups from reaching leadership positions. 
 
Sudbury is also an active speaker at LGBTQ+ events, and is involved with communities such as Lesbians Who Tech.
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Holly Dewsbury
Holly boasts a career of over 15 years in media/tech, including 3 of the big 6 network agencies, and leading Twitter's UKI Agency and Direct Partnerships team. She is currently Head of Agency at Facebook/Instagram, and has featured in The Drum's Top 50 under 30 women in Digital in the UK.
 
Holly Dewsbury, LGBT+ pioneers of tech.
 
Holly has used her leverage at these large tech platforms to shape and lead generations of LGBTQ+ leaders. She sits on the board of LGBT.net as a non-executive director. and is a constant and continuous advocate and speaker in the LGBTQ+ community.
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Tim Cook
We couldn't wrap up our list without mentioning Tim Cook, who has been the CEO of Apple since 2011. 
 
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple. LGTBQ+ tech pioneers.
 
Cook came out publicly in 2014, making him the first Chief Executive of a Fortune 500 company to do so. He is a continuous advocate of LGBTQ+ rights in the community and uses his personal wealth to donate to causes and fundraises.
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These are just a few of the fantastic tech leaders who are not only shaping the world of tech, but helping to promote diversity, inclusion and LGBTQ+ rights in our industry.
 
We've also listed a few great communities and websites below for you to check out:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
If you know of other LGBTQ+ tech groups and would like us to add to the list, please let us know!

 

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