STEVE KEITH OF EY ON BEING OUT AT WORK: “IT IS JUST A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN BE FREE TO BE YOURSELF”
The myGwork team met with Steve Keith, Marketing and Communications Lead for Apprenticeships at EY, to discuss his experience in a previous role of being in the closet ‘9-5’ and his efforts in helping to overcome the obstacles that prevent social mobility and to create equal opportunities for everybody.
With a great passion for working with young people, and as the first of his family to graduate from University, Steve understands the hurdles that can prevent social mobility. Research suggests that people from privileged backgrounds end up taking a great number of the top jobs available.
“Only 1 in 8 people from a low-income background are likely to become a high-income earner. It’s a problem in society a not one that should exist. Your background shouldn’t really come into it; it should be about an individual’s talent and potential for the future. It can be a particular challenge for young LGBT people – it can feel like another workplace barrier to overcome.”
Before joining EY in 2010, Steve spent 4 years working in a secondary school, recruiting and mentoring trainee teachers. Following the advice of other LGBT+ colleagues whilst teaching, he decided to stay in the closet, afraid of the reaction he would get if anybody found out.
“You read and hear about so many stories about homophobic bullying, that choosing to go back into the closet 9 to 5 seemed like a better option at the time. As a teacher, I became really frustrated and spent a lot of time dwelling on a missed opportunity of being a positive role model for children in the school going through the journey that I had gone through myself.”
After being made redundant in his previous role, Steve stumbled on his career at EY by accident, not only to find himself incredibly successful professionally, but also motivated by a completely different work environment.
“EY was about to launch a school leavers programme and they needed some assistance with working with schools. I had the experience of working in schools and working with young people and I’d always been interested in a career in marketing. I don’t think my sexuality has ever been a barrier whilst I’ve been at EY. It’s really liberating to go to work and be myself; it’s taken a huge weight off my shoulders that I previously had carried. Without even realising, I’ve come back out of the closet. A lot of it was just down to the culture at EY, it is just a place where you can be free to be yourself.”
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