Andi Keeling got her first job in banking at the age of sixteen, and is now Royal Bank of Scotland’s Director of Women’s Markets, and after 30 years with RBS, is the most senior out lesbian within an organisation of 140,000 people...
Being called Andi, people expect me to be a bloke! They get a shock when it turns out I’m a woman,” laughs Andi Keeling, RBS’s Director of Women’s Markets. Andi has worked hard to achieve her position, having spent 30 years with the bank and explains her current responsibilities: “My job at the RBS has three main parts: we support more women moving into senior roles; we support women who run their own business or want to run their own business; and we work with key strategic partners, like the government and media, to help achieve our goals both internally and externally,” Andi explains. The banking professional is perfectly placed to steer diversity goals.
Though she is out and proud now, Andi wasn’t always open about her sexuality:
“I was a late-starter. I didn’t have a great experience coming out to my family, and I was working in a male-dominated environment, so those factors put me off being ‘out’ at work.” What changed was a shift in roles within the company: “I made a conscious decision that I was going to go into that next job as ‘me’. From that moment on, I was completely out. Being able to bring my whole self to work allows me to better support other people around me. My experience coming out within RBS has been a really positive one. I hope my being out is encouraging for other people.”
Andi always had a passion for diversity, so when the role was formed in early 2012, it was a great opportunity for her to get fully involved.
“By diversity, I mean valuing difference, a difference that different brains bring. Whether they’re male or female, black or white, gay or straight, everyone contributes differently,” she explains. Andi also works on the steering committee for the RBS Rainbow Network, which supports the LGBT population within RBS. “The great thing is, because of my banking experience, it’s allowed me to give a real spin on how we, as a bank, support our LGBT employees, but also what we can do to support our LGBT customers,” Andi says.
“The best part about my job is changing people’s mindsets. My role has also allowed me to bring some of the charity stuff I do into work. I’m an ambassador for Stonewall and a role model for Diversity Role Models, which are both great charities.”
Despite her own views and experience, Andi is aware that not everyone is yet convinced by the case for diversity: “Sometimes it can be hard to win over everyone’s hearts and minds, she says. “But I think, given the chance, most people can change.”
Andi Keeling has been nominated as ‘Inspirational Role Model’ in the g3 magazine Reader’s Awards. To vote visit out3awards.co.uk