Many suppliers respond positively about the way BEST helps them to improve performance in their own businesses
Our Business Enabler Survey Tool (BEST) establishes the standards we expect from our key suppliers of goods and services, from carton board for cigarette packs to IT services. It is designed to identify the suppliers who meet our requirements and to help us develop a mutually beneficial continuous improvement process.
BEST assesses the sustainability performance of our materials suppliers through continuous detailed reviews by an international pool of trained auditors. Suppliers must obtain Approved, Qualified or Certified status in order to be retained by British American Tobacco. As part of the process, we also provide guidelines and roadmaps to support suppliers’ continuous improvement.
The BEST criteria include employee rights and training, process control, quality philosophy, financial management, occupational health, safety and environmental management and the supplier’s ability to trace its own materials sources, including sourcing wood from certified forestry.
Suppliers are asked to provide evidence that they comply with all relevant regulations and have policies, procedures and practices demonstrating a commitment to corporate responsibility, employment principles and good corporate conduct. The human rights criteria include working conditions, employee benefits, child labour, forced, bonded and slave labour, discrimination, collective bargaining and freedom to join unions, records of harassment, abuse or bullying and the history of any strikes.
BEST also covers suppliers’ support in tackling illicit trade and counterfeit. Suppliers are asked to verify that they have adopted rigorous ‘Know Your Customer’ due diligence controls such as our own, with the aim of ensuring that sales are made only to reputable customers.
The BEST reviews are carried out by 327 trained reviewers, four regional coordinators and one global coordinator. All major materials suppliers have been reviewed at least once since 1999.
In 2012, we carried out 36 reviews of 12 global and 24 regional materials suppliers. Of these, 17 gained the minimum Approved status, 12 gained Qualified status and six gained the highest status, Certified. One supplier was not adopted due to a number of factors as part of a wider sourcing process.
To help spread high standards further through the supply chain, we are now encouraging our suppliers to use the BEST criteria and improvement guidelines with their own suppliers.
Our leaf buyers are applying aspects of BEST to support continuous improvement at Green Leaf Threshing plants as part of our Social Responsibility in Tobacco Production programme.
BEST is regularly improved to reflect best practice. Our NGO partners in the British American Tobacco Biodiversity Partnership helped us to develop the criteria on materials sustainability to take account of the impacts on forestry and agriculture of suppliers’ own sourcing of raw materials, including wood pulp.
More detailed elements on human rights, employee welfare and tackling illicit trade were developed to increase BEST’s alignment with our Business Principles and, in 2011, additional sustainability criteria were incorporated.