Keith Gautrey-Prue works for RS Components in a role that is all about getting people to think differently, he sits down to talk to Louise Sinnerton from myGwork about why that is so important to him.
“I like getting people to change the way they do things, and that’s where my passion lies. I like to show people a world of possibilities.”
That is something that is inherent in Keith’s day job, but also applies to setting up communities in the workplace, Keith joined the company in 2017 and this year he helped to set up their LGBT+ network, called Spectrum.
“For me understanding that none of us are any different to one another is important.
"I’m really open about who I am, I want people to know that I’m a gay man and I mention husband in every early conversation so there’s no misunderstanding about who I am”.
Throughout his career, Keith has had roles at many companies with thriving LGBT+ and employee networks.
Now, as part of an established organisation that has been around since 1937, and is now a FTSE 250 company, Keith says, “I’m really proud of where I work and I want to help propel it into the future and make it a little more uptodate”.
He is working alongside other colleagues to support and embed the Diversity & Inclusion strategy.
Most of Keith’s career has been around learning and development, and he has always had an enquiring mind. Always wanting to know how things worked led him to train as a lean practitioner.
“After the training it started to hit home - 15 years of it - that my natural inquisitiveness helps, but I want to help other people see.
"I like opening people up to the possibilities of what they can do, and I want to help people see things differently”.
When he arrived at RS Components there wasn’t a huge amount of activity round D&I and this is something Keith was eager to change.
“A few people in the office mentioned we should set up an LGBT+ network - and we tentatively asked around - I’ve been a part of these networks at Ticketmaster and at the Civil Service, and I understand the importance of them.
"I’m passionate about “if we talk to people and explain our community, they understand we all live our lives in the same way.
"My husband and I go to Tesco’s exactly the same way as anyone else does. It’s worth exploring that with people and helping non-LGBT community people understand that”.
Keith talks about meeting his husband Andrew 37 years ago, how happy they are together and how their story is so similar to other peoples’.
“We have an ordinary run-of-the-mill life, we’re both keen motorcyclists and share hobbies, as we all know at the core we’re all the same.
"The romantic side of the story is that we became civil partners at 11am in 2006, and then got married again at 11am in 2017 - and our wedding is backdated to our civil partnership. So both times we’ve been married at 11am.”
Keith describes them both as “golden children” in terms of their parents.
“We have a very supportive family who’ve always been okay with us. We’re really lucky our parents come and stay with us and our families know each other well, we BBQ together in the summer.
"I would say we have a charmed life and we are so fortunate not to have had any challenges to who we are really”.
That “charmed life” is something that Keith wants everyone to have. “I talk about Andrew with my boss, and my team, and that’s what it should be for everyone.
Having to lie about him wouldn’t be healthy, and I shouldn’t be worried about going home to a man or a woman, who I live with shouldn’t really matter”.
When I ask Keith about the future at RS he talks about five years down the line, as he says, they are very early on in their journey at the moment.
“For me the strategy is to look long term but build and embed now. We sponsored Kettering Pride for the first time this year, and I know that made a big difference to our local community.
"We are a global business and we are launching the network globally in November, but it’s really important to me to be involved locally and make a difference at that level.”
He tells me in the long term it’s about being a truly global network and for everyone at RS Components to feel safe, no matter which country they are working in.
“We were a family business when we started, and we want it to feel like a family when you work here.
"In China and Hong Kong being accepted for who you are can be more of a challenge, but maybe if we can help people feel more comfortable at work, that may be a small step and a way forward to helping the global scene.
"We still need to raise the understanding of the LGBT community in other countries. If one organisation can make small steps, that improves the wellbeing of everyone”.
RS Components is a corporate member of myGwork, The LGBT+ Business Community.