Innovation Diversity: Celebrating Cleantech Pride

The future of cleantech has been fueled by inclusive innovation. Cleantech Group is proud to honor the many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and more (LGBTQ+) leaders in cleantech in celebration of June Pride month and throughout the year and we will continue to feature some of the innovators and investors that stand out.  

Proud Ventures reports 75% of LGBTQ+ founders conceal their identity from investors, leading to negative health and cognitive impacts. In its extensive UK LGBTQ+ Founder Report, Proud Ventures reported that just a third of investors said they were taking action to support ‘diverse’ founders were doing anything to support LGBTQ+ founders. What’s more, LGBTQ+ founders face additional barriers to raising capital, especially women, gender, and ethnic minorities.  

Personally, I proudly feel that the fact that I am gay is a badge of honor. It is my favorite aspect of myself, and it has allowed me to view the world through a lens of love, understanding, and openness for all — an incredible feat despite growing up in rural, conservative S. Texas. I’m grateful for the opportunities and many mentors that have allowed me to deprogram internalized homophobia and rewire to love myself, and in turn, respect others – something with which, I know, all of our LGBTQ+ readers and allies will resonate with. 

A Conversation with Out in Climate 

There are many LGBTQ+ leaders that are not only driving progress in cleantech but also fostering a diverse and equitable future. Recently, I had the privilege to sit down with Carbon Direct Strategist and Out in Climate Founder, Adrian Silver (he/him), to discuss the importance of creating a safe space for LGBTQ+ professionals. 

López: Can you share your journey of being an LGBTQ+ professional in the cleantech world? 

Silver: I’ve been out since college, and in professional settings my whole life. I’ve never encountered barriers or challenges in the workplace due to my sexuality. In fact, I met my now-husband in my first workplace! I’ve been fortunate to experience supportive working environments throughout my career. 

López:  Can you share more about your role at Carbon Direct? 

Silver: Carbon Direct helps organizations reach their climate goals to reduce emissions through actionable reduction strategies and high-quality carbon-dioxide removal. As a Carbon Strategist, I help our clients measure, reduce, and remove their emissions with scientific rigor.  

López:  Why did you found Out in Climate? 

Silver: I founded Out in Climate in 2022 with a few friends because we recognized the need to hold safe spaces for LGBTQ+ professionals to foster networking and mentoring within sustainability and climate. I was honestly surprised that such a group didn’t exist already! Following in the footsteps of organizations like Out Leadership and Out in Tech, we welcome start-ups, investors, corporates, government agencies, and more.  

López:  What can one expect from an Out in Climate meetup? 

Silver: We host happy hours and panel events on topics such as climate resilience, climate venture capital, carbon removal, and more. Our next event is a tour of a wastewater treatment plant in NYC! 

We’re committed to building community and real, lasting relationships. The vibe is always professional and relaxed at the same time. 

López:  What is your vision for Out in Climate’s future? 

Silver: I would love to expand our volunteer base to host events in most major cities across the U.S. where there’s a critical mass of queer sustainability professionals. In addition, I hope organizations think of us as a resource whenever they want to hire diverse talent or diversify panels. I want current students and early-career professionals to find mentors and see that there is a path for them in this space. Finally, our non-profit needs to be financially sustainable—to that end, we are seeking donations from companies, and we’re excited to announce our inaugural sponsors later this Pride month. 

López:  Finally, what advice would you give to other LGBTQ+ professionals aspiring to succeed in your profession? 

Silver: I’d say take a tactical approach; stand out by showing up. Do your research, connect with leaders in your profession, and join organizations like Out in Climate to stay engaged.  

Venture Capital Shoutout 

There are also additional support organizations coming online to specially focus on the LGBTQ+ community and tech founders. For example,, founded in 2023, raised over $54M to support early-stage LGBTQ+ founders in Europe that will include, but is not limited to, cleantech innovators like Eco.mio. was founded by Jochen Beutgen (he/him) and Til Klein (he/him), who is also a member of Out Investors, a global LGBTQ+ network for investing professionals. “Diversity is an attractive investment case. Numerous studies show that diverse teams perform better,” said Klein ( 

And there’s Chasing Rainbows, an early-stage venture fund founded by Ben Stokes and Patrick Driscoll. Its portfolio showcases a range of innovators in various sectors from sustainable technology to AI-driven services. Typical investment size ranges from $50-$250K. Among Chasing Rainbows’ portfolio members include TomTex, a developer of a plastic-free biobased leather alterative using chitin from shell seafood waste or mushroom.  

Let’s Uplift Our LGBTQ+ Leaders 

It’s not lost on me that we still have a long way to go for many members of the community. While many of us are safe and protected in the developed world, the community still faces much adversity. In requesting interviews for this very blog, I was ignored by lots of potential interviewees—which is particularly uncommon. I even received a “no” response from a senior professional who feared being “attacked” if publicly outed. 

These are still realities that the community faces at-large. Pride month is about representation, visibility, and memorial. It must also be a time to remember the millions who remain vulnerable to injustice simply for daring to be themselves.  And let’s not just celebrate for a single month! 

We’d love to hear more about leaders in this space not highlighted in this blog. Please reach out and share your love and support for LGBTQ+ leaders in cleantech and in our lives. 

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