Community contributions by our companies vary to address local needs
We recognise the role of business as a corporate citizen and our companies have long supported local community and charitable projects. We approach corporate social investment (CSI) as an end in itself, rather than as a way to promote ourselves, and our companies have always been closely identified with the communities where they operate.
We are one of the world’s most international businesses and have been in business for over a century, operating from the start outside either Britain or America, despite our name. Local community needs are as diverse as the communities themselves and what’s important to one community will be very different from what’s important to another. As a result we believe that CSI should be managed at a local level to ensure we support the most appropriate projects and maximise the value of CSI activities.
We provide our companies with guidance on selecting, managing and evaluating major CSI activities and ask them to calculate their contributions using the London Benchmarking Group (LBG) model, used by over 100 businesses. This includes cash contributions, in-kind donations and employee volunteering in company time.
Over recent years, greater alignment of our global spend with our Corporate Social Investment framework has led to us concentrating on a smaller number of large projects that are focused on our key themes. We believe this will ensure that our community investments have greater impact in the areas that really count.
Where we have exited partnerships and charitable relationships, we have done so over time or with sufficient prior communication to limit any negative impact from our withdrawal of support. Much of the reduction in spend relates to one-off donations though, so we believe the negative impacts have been minimal.
Our global CSI expenditure in 2012 was £11.5 million under the LBG model (2011: £13.6 million) and £11.6 million under statutory criteria (2011: £13.7 million).
Our global themes
We are encouraging our companies to focus their CSI activities around three key themes:
Sustainable agriculture and environment;
Sustainable agriculture and environment covers contributions to the social, economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture. It includes activities such as efforts to improve biodiversity and access to water, afforestation, programmes to prevent child labour, grants for agricultural research and training to help farmers grow non-tobacco crops. We expect this type of CSI to complement our own agricultural, environmental and biodiversity conservation practices.
Empowerment focuses on giving people training, education and opportunities to help them develop. Examples include scholarships and IT training or programmes supporting small businesses and promoting entrepreneurship.
Civic life encompasses activities that aim to enrich public and community life, including supporting the arts and educational institutions, conserving indigenous cultures and restoring public spaces.
Our companies also continue to make other important contributions to meet local needs, such as relief efforts after natural disasters or programmes focused on HIV/AIDS.
We have two major activities currently supported by British American Tobacco p.l.c.: the British American Tobacco Biodiversity Partnership and the Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation .