Headlines: May 8th, 2000

Customs and Excise have been making headway in initiatives to encourage the development of a diverse workforce.Rachel Pickavance, Non-Executive Director of the Board of Customs & Excise outlined progress in initiatives on race, equality and diversity implemented over the past year, to an audience of the Race Equality in Employment Project (REEP).

These include positive action training programmes, such as 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.

There have also been focus groups, giving ethnic minority staff the opportunity to meet and discuss issues and influence policy.

She argued that the business case for such initiatives was even stronger than the moral, legal and ethical grounds for doing so, leading to improved excellence of service and to attracting from the widest pool of talent available.

She said that the modernising agenda and the Stephen Lawrence case provided imperatives to examine race issues within government all organisations, and none had room to be complacent.

Rachel Pickavance is a member of the Race Relations Forum that is chaired by the Home Secretary.

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