Fostering Inclusivity: How Crunchbase Is Shining The Spotlight On LGBTQ+ Businesses

Published: June 21, 2023

According to a 2022 study, there are more than 783,183 business owners currently employed in the U.S. — but a mere 10% of those represent the LGBTQ+ community. Further, a 2023 report by StartOut found that LGBTQ+ founders face additional barriers to raising capital, and another report said that less than 1% of the more than $2 trillion in funding for startups went to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs. 

In other words, it’s clear the LGBTQ+ community has the odds stacked against them. To help remedy those barriers, prospecting platform Crunchbase released new features that help draw visibility to LGBTQ+ businesses. The company offers “tags” that companies can apply to their profiles to provide additional context about their business, which includes details about the company’s location, industry, funding status, investment stage — and now its representation in terms of LGBTQ+ leadership.

The two new tags — “LGBTQ+ Led” and “LGBTQ+ Founded” — were created to help close the inequity gap that currently exists. To learn more about this initiative and discuss the benefits it holds for the LGBTQ+ community, I sat down with Ryan Husk, Director of Business Development at Crunchbase.

Kelly Lindenau: Can you tell us more about the LGBTQ+ tags? What led to their creation, and how will they benefit users?

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Ryan Husk: Introducing the LGBTQ+ tags is a natural progression in our ongoing commitment to create an ecosystem that supports underrepresented groups through our Diversity Spotlight initiative. By tracking this data, we can bring visibility to the underrepresentation of LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs in the startup and venture capital ecosystem. It helps shine a light on their contributions, challenges and successes. The data also allows us to identify and address the significant opportunity gaps that exist within the industry. By understanding funding trends and challenges, we can advocate for increased support and investment in LGBTQ+ founders and help level the playing field.

Lindenau: What are the benefits you anticipate seeing for LGBTQ+ businesses after adding these tags?

Husk: We hope LGBTQ+ businesses will gain more visibility, not just among potential customers, but also investors, partners and even future employees who value diversity and inclusion. This increased visibility can lead to valuable networking opportunities, partnerships and collaborations that can propel the growth and success of LGBTQ+ businesses. These tags also provide an opportunity to celebrate the achievements and contributions of LGBTQ+ founders and leaders. It allows us to highlight their impact, share success stories and inspire others within the LGBTQ+ community to pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations.

Lindenau: Although it’s the obvious question to ask, why is it so important to provide visibility to LGBTQ+-founded businesses and companies?

Husk: Tracking LGBTQ+ data aligns with Crunchbase’s goal of promoting diversity and inclusion in the business world. It allows us to create awareness, encourage representation and foster an environment where everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, has an equal opportunity to succeed. Having concrete data helps in advocating for policy changes, funding initiatives and resource allocation to support LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs. It enables us to make evidence-based arguments for greater equity and access within the startup ecosystem.

Lindenau: How do you plan to expand the tags in the future?

Husk: We’re fully aware that there’s always more we can do to represent different groups and identities. Our goal is to consistently broaden the scope of the Diversity Spotlight program by including more underrepresented groups and making our tagging system more detailed and comprehensive. This could involve introducing new tags or adding more granularity to our existing tags to better represent the myriad identities and experiences within these groups.

In addition to promoting DE&I, this feature can also contribute to Crunchbase’s prospecting data long term, supporting companies that are committed to fostering diversity within their business ecosystem. By including LGBTQ+ tags, we can offer more comprehensive data about diverse companies that can inform businesses seeking to collaborate with partners from underrepresented backgrounds.

Lindenau: Throughout our conversation, you mentioned ‘Diversity Spotlight.’ Can you share some more context around that initiative?

Husk: Diversity Spotlight launched in 2020, and we were inspired to build it while brainstorming ways Crunchbase could do more as a company to build equity, diversity and inclusion in the startup world. To date, 3,084 contributors have added diversity data to Crunchbase, and 28,336 profiles have been updated, highlighting underrepresented groups through race, ethnicity and gender tags. Inspired by the positive impact and the evident need for such data-driven initiatives, I felt driven to broaden the program’s spectrum to include the LGBTQ+ community.

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