‘Being an ally is so easy’ – Keith Grant speaks to IOB on Pride and inclusivity


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We are proud to present the following interview from IOB in which our Recruitment Manager Keith Grant discusses Pride, Inclusiivity, and how to be an ally to the LGBTQI+ community.

This article is fully credited to IOB with thanks from Engage People 💙🌈

‘Being an ally is so easy’ – Financial services recruiter Keith Grant on Pride and inclusivity

This Pride month, IOB is hosting a special event on financial planning for the LGBTQIA+ community. The event will discuss the potential financial challenges that members of the LGBTQIA+ community face and how financial services professionals can best consider financial planning for members of this community.

Ahead of the event, we speak with Keith Grant, Recruitment Manager at Engage People Recruitment – who will be MCing the event – to discuss his career journey, the growth of diversity, equity and inclusion in financial services and how easy it is to be a great ally.

Hi Keith, thank you for speaking with us. Can you tell us a little about your career journey in financial services and recruitment?

I always say I fell into banking – I studied Business and German in college and wanted to make sure I was able to use both in my career; a job at Deutsche Bank seemed like the perfect fit! And it was, I really enjoyed my 15 year stint at Deutsche, it shaped the type of person that I am.

In 2021 I felt that something was missing from my career though, whilst I worked hard, I couldn’t see how my contribution impacted to the bottom line. I wanted a role where I could visibly and tangibly see the difference my contribution made. I looked back over my career at Deutsche at the time, and the piece of work that I really enjoyed was building teams and interviewing people. So that got me thinking about recruitment. This was January 2021… fast forward to November 2021 and I had resigned from Deutsche and started at Engage People Recruitment. The rest, as they say, is history!

We are looking forward to hearing from you as a speaker at our upcoming event on financial planning for the LGBTQIA+ community. What can our members expect from the event?

I am very excited to MC this event in partnership with the IOB. As it’s Pride month, I think it’s a good idea to shine a light on some of the challenges that LGBT+ community face with their finances. I did some research on the topic and some of the stuff I came across was really eye-opening. We have a world-class panel in attendance too, I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a key priority for the financial services sector. Have you seen DEI practices grow and evolve throughout your career working with and within financial services?

Absolutely. When this was a topic in my early days at Deutsche, we very much focused on diversity. Are we diverse enough? How do we become more diverse? The conversation then moved on to inclusion i.e. OK we’re diverse, does everyone feel included though? Now we also look through an equity lens; are things fair and equal across the firm? Not only looking at compensation, but other aspects too. And the conversation continues because there is still work to do. But society has moved on in leaps and bounds from the time I started my career back in 2006. I’m hopeful we’ll continue to progress and evolve, although with the rising of the far right across the world in the recent past, we have our work cut out for us. But I am hopeful.

As a recruitment expert, is diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) becoming more important to candidates when looking at potential employers?

Yes. I recently worked with a trans lady on a role and the first question she asked me is ‘what is the DEI policy, can I take a look at it before I submit my application’. This happens more than you would imagine. And it might not be as overt as ‘what is their policy’, but candidates have spoken to me many, many times about workplace culture. I am an out gay man, many candidates follow me on LinkedIn and know this, so they feel comfortable to ask me about life at prospective companies. I have been asked over 20 times in my 2.5 years of recruiting something along the lines of ‘would I be ok in that company as a gay man/lesbian/trans woman etc.’ It can be a huge factor for some LGTB job seekers.

On the employer side, my clients want a diverse set of CVs to be sent across to them for roles at all levels. Some DEI elements (LGBT+ for one) can be ‘invisible’, but others such as ethnicity are not, so it is imperative that I am able to offer as diverse a range of profiles as I can to my clients. And that’s what I do!

What would your advice be to financial services professionals looking to become better allies for the LGBTQIA+ community?

Being an ally is so easy. You don’t need to wave a flag, attend events etc. (I mean it’s amazing if you do!). You just need to treat everyone with respect and recognise that the LGBT+ community is a marginalised community. Some LGBT+ people genuinely have zero issues and they’re happy out and loving life, some are bullied incessantly and have massive mental health issues as a result. Understanding that just because the LGBT+ people that you know have zero issues, but others could and do, is key.

Finally, if you were to give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

I don’t think this is a valid question for me because younger Keith wouldn’t listen to any advice from anyone…! But if I had to, I’d tell younger Keith that yes, you can completely change your career at 37 years old and make a massive success of it, so don’t stress over it. If you want it, you can do it.

Register now: Financial Planning for the LGBTQIA+ community

Join Keith Grant and a panel of industry experts and leaders at our forthcoming online event on 28 June. Register here.