Rachel Pickavance, Non-Executive Director of the Board of Customs & Excise will tonight outline the initiatives on race, equality and diversity implemented by Customs & Excise over the past year, to an audience of the Race Equality in Employment Project (REEP).

These include, Positive Action training programmes.

Focus Groups, giving ethnic minority staff the opportunity to meet and discuss issues and influence policy.

Planned Diversity Training for front line staff giving them the necessary skills and knowledge needed to deliver the professional standard of service to a diverse trading and travelling public.

Diversity training for managers.

She points out “that like most organisations we recognise there are clear moral, ethical and legal grounds for ensuring that we are not discriminatory in our employment practices and in the way we deal with our customers or interact within the communities in which we work..”.

“The business case is even more compelling. We deal with a very diverse public, including travellers from all over the world, and we need a diverse workforce to achieve the excellence in service that we strive to provide. We like many employers are also competing for talent and cannot afford to allow the talents of diverse races to go to waste or to find ourselves in a position where we are unable to attract the best.”

“Modernising Government and the Stephen Lawrence case have provided imperatives to examine race issues within government organisations. There is no longer room for departments to be complacent and say they have no problem. They need to be radically critical of the way things have been done in the past and ensure that they contribute towards developing a fair and just society for all.”

Notes to Editors

The event tonight at The House of Lords is at the invitation of Lord Sheppard and will be attended by Chief Executives of the FTSE 100 companies, political and religious leaders.

Rachel Pickavance was appointed non executive director to the Board of Customs & Excise in October 1999. She is a Human Resource Director in the Private Sector and has worked on diversity issues for over 20 years. In 1999 she was appointed to the Race Relations Forum that is chaired by the Home Secretary.

Customs & Excise employs over 23,000 staff. It’s two main aims are to collect revenue and protect society, contributing over #94bn to the exchequer last year.

REEP was set up in 1990 after a conference of Church leaders, Politicians and community organisations.

Ms Pickavance will explain how Customs & Excise has demonstrated their commitment to REEP, The South London Industrial Mission (SLIM) and the Wood-Sheppard principles by seconding a full time member of staff to the Mission to help with the implementation of the project.

In 1992 a REEP commissioned study of 100 top companies resulted in a report “Buried Talent” which suggested establishing a set of race equality principles for employers to encourage effective equal opportunities, these principles were sponsored by the Right Reverend Wilfred Wood, Bishop of Croydon and the Right Reverend David Sheppard, Bishop of Liverpool.

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