LGBT HISTORY MONTH: Three women changing the digital industry


LGBT History Month is an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. This LGBT History Month, we are shining a spotlight on three influential LGBT women who are shaking up the industry we work win and leading the way in inclusive technology in 2021. 

Hayley Sudbury: Founder and CEO of WERKIN

Hayley Sudbury is the founder and CEO of WERKIN. An equal rights exponent, Hayley came from an entrepreneurial family and was included in business conversations from a young age. As she started to gain prominence in industry, she began advocating for inclusive digital leadership, raising awareness about the lack of LGBT role models at the top. In 2016 she created WERKIN, a platform that democratises access to mentorship opportunities by supporting the LGBT community as well as ethnic minorities, women, people with disabilities and other underrepresented groups.

Hayley is committed to creating a fundamental shift for the LGBT talent pipeline and uses her technology to support mentoring programmes for several ED&I organisations, including Lesbian and Bisexual professional women and OUTstanding. Her company is a UK partner of Lesbians Who Tech, providing support by hosting and sponsoring the London Summer Party.

She is now a mentor for young people perusing STEM careers and has been recognised in the FT Outstanding Top 100 LGBT Executives.


Ana Arriola, partner and product designer at Microsoft

Ana Arriola is currently a partner at Microsoft, where she works on Artificial Intelligence, product design and the Bing search engine. With a career in product design spanning several executive positions at Facebook, Samsung and Sony, she is one of the most influential LGBT women in global tech. Since 2018, she is focussed on developing human-centric and ethical designs to increase the accessibility of emerging tech products. Through her work and leadership, she is democratising the use of AI, databases and models by engaging individuals with diverse backgrounds in creative digital processes.

In a recent TED Talk in Japan, Ana gave the audience three takeaways and repeated them in her talk at the Tech Inclusion conference. “Embrace your fear, have ferocious tenacity and have unwavering grit,” she says. “If you can master these three things, there’s nothing that will scare you, nothing that you can actually not tackle in this world.”

Arlan Hamilton, cofounder and CEO of Backstage Capital

Arlan Hamilton is managing partner at Backstage Capital, a Venture Capital firm focussed on funding startups run by ethnic minorities, women and the LGBT community.

In 2015, Arlan was on food stamps and sleeping on the floor of the San Francisco airport, with nothing but an old laptop and a dream of breaking into the venture capital business. Hamilton had no contacts or network in Silicon Valley, no background in finance or tech, not even a degree. What she did have was fierce determination and the will to succeed.

Having witnessed the barriers LGBT entrepreneurs face, she made it her mission to create a platform to increase investment opportunities for underrepresented individuals. Unlike other venture capitalists, some of whom merely pay lip service to Silicon Valley’s diversity problem, Hamilton has woven inclusion into the DNA of Backstage Capital. Now, her $10m boutique venture fund has invested in over 160 startups, allowing a diverse group of founders to develop and scale their businesses.

Through her work and advocacy, she aims to empower more tech entrepreneurs to find their voice, wear their identity with pride and achieve their dreams.