The way we run our business
Effective governance is critical to ensuring that the principles of CSR and sustainability are embedded throughout an organisation’s culture and day-to-day operations.
"No organisation can be sustainable unless it addresses how it conducts its business and not just what it does."
NGO stakeholder in dialogue
British American Tobacco is an international group and each local company has a high degree of freedom and responsibility for its operations, within the overall Group strategy. We aim to embed the principles of CSR and sustainability across our business through a governance framework that has three key elements:
Group CSR governance
All our Group companies are required to demonstrate clearly defined management responsibility for CSR. Our governance structure includes CSR governance committees at local, regional and Board levels, which aim to support the embedding of CSR principles Group-wide, by monitoring adherence to the Core Beliefs in our Statement of Business Principles.
Comment from Ernst & Young LLP
“We interviewed members of the Board CSR Committee and reviewed minutes to understand the topics discussed. The Board CSR Committee met twice in 2007 and most topics covered in this Report were discussed at those meetings. During our interviews, a number of improvement areas were highlighted, including the need for closer co-ordination between the Board CSR Committee and the regional CSR committees.”
During 2007 the Board CSR Committee was chaired by The Rt. Hon. Kenneth Clarke, Deputy Chairman and Senior Non-Executive Director of British American Tobacco p.l.c., who retired from the Board on 30 April 2008. He was succeeded by Karen de Segundo, who was appointed a Non-Executive Director of British American Tobacco p.l.c. in 2007 and Chair of the Board CSR Committee on 1 May 2008. The Board CSR Committee comprises the independent Non-Executive Directors and meets at least twice a year. It is attended, at the invitation of the Chair, by the Company Chairman, the Executive Directors and other senior managers as required. Through feedback from the regional and local CSR committees, it reviews Group social, environmental and corporate citizenship performance, evaluates our policies in the area of social, environmental and reputation risks and, where necessary, makes recommendations for change. It also reviews the sustainability reporting process.
Regional CSR committees are chaired by Directors of British American Tobacco p.l.c.
Local CSR committees cover all markets where our companies do business, with these taking the form, for some smaller markets, of CSR monitoring by the management team.
We will be reviewing our CSR governance processes during 2008 to ensure they continue to adequately meet the needs of the business and are robust in the management of non-financial risk.
Statement of Business Principles
Our Statement of Business Principles forms the basis on which we expect our businesses to be run in terms of responsibility. Developed in consultation with stakeholders, it comprises three principles: Mutual Benefit, Responsible Product Stewardship and Good Corporate Conduct, and 18 Core Beliefs which explain in more detail what each principle means for us.
Framework for CSR
We believe our Framework for CSR may provide a blueprint for a responsible tobacco business. Like our Business Principles, the Framework was developed during 2002-03 together with our stakeholders in dialogue. Our Framework takes each of our Core Beliefs and sets out how we see the different roles in each area – where we should take the lead, where we should work with others and where we think others should take the lead.
We believe our Framework for CSR may provide a blueprint for a responsible tobacco company. It is available to read in full on bat.com/principles