Reece Tomlinson, founder of investment firm Saône Capital, on how investing in trans and non-binary people is good for business, as people from different backgrounds have different ideas and approaches
“When you look at underrepresented founders as a whole, they’re actually the majority of founders,” says Reece Tomlinson, trans CEO and founder of the Saône Capital, an investment firm that have identified a huge gap in the market.
When Tomlinson talks about underrepresented founders, she is talking about those who are not white men. “We need to increase accessibility so these founders can get in front of investment groups with confidence. That is the premise of Saône. Can we change by having representation in the market? My opinion is 1000% we can.”
Tomlinson founded her investment capital firm a year ago after meeting other trans and non-binary business owners that needed investment but did not feel comfortable speaking up and asking for it from traditional firms. Tomlinson came out as a trans woman a year ago in a move she thought would be “terrifying, I thought it would be career suicide. But once I started leaning into my truth, I realised I had no other option.”
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a white male. Some people have this notion there’s some prejudice or exclusionary principles there. It’s like no, not at all. We just want to make sure that people who are from underrepresented groups get the access to the advisory that they wouldn’t have got elsewhere.Reece Tomlinson, founder of Saône Capital
Tomlinson has conducted research revealing that one in five LGBTQ and trans founders hide their identity from investors, and that over 1-in-10 (11%) UK founders are still denied investment based on their gender, race, or age. And 75% of LGBTQ+ founders admit they feel uncomfortable sharing their identity with others, according to Proud Ventures. Since setting up Tomlinson has proven that being trans, non-binary and LGBTQ inclusive isn’t just kind, it’s lucrative too.
Investment firms are “missing a big opportunity by not necessarily having proper representation from these communities,” says Tomlinson. “People who come from underrepresented backgrounds often have different ideas, which further reduces risk – so it’s, my view is its a quintessential requirement.”
Saône offers investment, corporate finance, ESG and leadership advisory to help companies scale. Tomlinson puts in over ten years of experience working in the financial industry, and has in her career advised on over $1billion in transactions at RWT Growth. Saône has built a small portfolio of seven firms, including a hybrid solar and wave company and an e-scooter charging system.
“The best thing I can do is have a lot of success and interaction as a woman in business who happens to be trans. I think people need to see within the trans community people speaking up and being leaders that are relatable and I hope I can be that person.
The “overwhelming” responses from founders is that they tell Tomlinson they “love” Saône’s messaging, that she understands what they’re going through. So far 64% of the portfolio is people from minority communities, including communities featuring trans women and men.
“With that being said, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a white male,” says Tomlinson. “I think some people have this notion there’s some prejudice or exclusionary principles there. It’s like no, not at all, that goes against what I’m about personally. We just want to make sure that people who are from underrepresented groups get the access to the advisory that they wouldn’t have got elsewhere.”
“We’re living in a time where talent is increasingly hard to find. So if you’re not promoting people who don’t look like you, and encouraging them to come work at the places you lead or run or own, you’re invariably missing out on talent that can help your business.”
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