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Stratford Girls' Grammar School Stratford-Upon-Avon
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Enrichment Week For Year 9 - HR Expert Speaker On Equality

SGGS welcomed Melanie MacWilliam, HR expert on equality law and equal pay cases, to speak to Year 9 students in their Enrichment week this year.

After leaving the Stratford on Avon District Council in 2015, Ms MacWilliam has worked as an HR specialist in various institutions, before setting up her own specialist consultancy company.  She worked at the BBC in 2017 as a HR Case Manager focussing on Equal Pay claims for five months before moving to National Grid into her current contract as Employee Relations Specialist.

The students showed that they really valued learning about equality, especially in these sessions where they can discover more than the curriculum provides: “The open discussion was a good opportunity for year 9 to discuss their opinions and learn from each other,” said a sixth form student helping with the event.

Students talked about the importance of equal pay and a professional environment, not just in terms of gender but also for different races, sexual orientations and people with disabilities. Some students were exploring the difficulties of positive discrimination and therefore the difference between equity and equality.

When discussing how society catches up with the employment laws put in, Ms MacWilliam said: “I still don’t believe we are fully caught up. It is very difficult to have a completely equitable society.” One of these figures that shocked the girls was that only 1-10 per cent of ethnic minorities hold elite professional and management roles in the UK.

Ms MacWilliam discussed the importance she places on talking to young women, especially in the current climate: “I do think a lot of the press stories can cause some worry amongst young women. I would hate for them to think that the world of work is a horrendous place. There have been deficiencies in the past but businesses and legislators are doing a lot of work to improve the situation.”

One piece of advice that she would give young people is, “Pick an organisation with the same morals and views as your own. You can always raise an issue if it comes up and the message is to talk to people, because there are places set up in an organisation which are there to help you. Often the main demographic who I find have difficulty are the older male generation who don’t feel that they can talk about mental health or stress related problems.”

Finally, Ms MacWilliam was asked how long she thought the issue of discrimination between gender pay in the workplace would continue, she said: “As long as maternity and paternity leave are not equal in law, until there is equity in that.”

Published on 12th July 18