Sustainable supply chain
What were we told?
Ipsos MORI provide us with an independent report of the dialogue sessions which outlines the stakeholder discussions that took place. From this we know that, to differing degrees, the stakeholders who participated in the dialogue sessions supported our role in industry leadership and building partnerships, as well as our new emphasis on reporting on only our most material issues and our aim of developing more meaningful targets. However, some general issues were also highlighted:
- That we should consider the ‘big picture’ and focus on harm reduction especially;
- That we need to demonstrate outcomes and achievements rather than just our inputs;
- That we should look to develop more visionary and stretching targets;
- That we should provide more detailed information in areas of concern.
We hope that this Report goes some way to meeting our stakeholders’ expectations, particularly through our focus on harm reduction.
Following an outline of our strategy to reduce the social, economic and environmental impacts generated through our supply chain, our stakeholders called for more ambitious targets in the areas of carbon neutrality and carbon offsetting. Partnership with other companies, even across industries, was seen as a key priority. Building broad employee awareness and involvement would, it was felt, help drive effective implementation of environmental programmes within the business. It was also suggested that we should increase the involvement of indirect suppliers in our programmes and work to improve our suppliers’ understanding of the issues.
In discussions during this session, a strong desire emerged for us to show ‘step change’ leadership, building on our existing programmes to challenge ourselves further. Some stakeholders questioned our unilateral move to an updated, more restrictive version of our voluntary International Marketing Standards, as opposed to industry partnership. It was felt that marketplace dilemmas required co-operation across the industry, regulators, retailers and government. While we agree, we also believe it is important to ensure that our own Standards remain relevant to today’s marketplace. We hope that, in turn, this will raise standards of industry behaviour.
People and culture
Talking to our employees
To promote collaboration across the Group, we encourage employee engagement through individual discussions, team briefings, publications, internal blogs and local surveys and new communications techniques that were introduced in 2007.
Our major international employee opinion survey runs every two years and the next will be conducted in 2008. In our last survey, we performed well against the comparator companies but some areas for improvement were identified including our people indicating their desire for more preparation for career development.
More information on the results of our employee opinion survey and approach to human resource management can be seen in the section on People and culture.
In general, our stakeholders’ views of our human resources strategy were positive. Various recommendations for improvement were proposed. The suggestions ranged from increasing our focus on the development of middle managers, to learning from the initiatives of other companies and doing more to establish the identity of British American Tobacco as an employer.
Our CSR stakeholders challenged us to define what we meant by sustainability and to ensure that sustainability issues would be consistently managed across the business. There was a strong focus on having the appropriate governance processes in place, including ethics governance. It was suggested that we combine our CSR committee structure with our risk management and audit processes. We will consider this during 2008. It was noted that many of the most vocal critics of the tobacco industry were not present at our dialogue. We reiterated our willingness to talk to all stakeholders and explained our continued attempts to meet with our critics.
In terms of Report content, it was explained that we would continue to report on a wide range of CSR issues on our website, but would focus our Sustainability Report on a narrower range of key issues material to stakeholders and to our business. In addition, we committed to aim to set more challenging targets. This received strong support.
We have taken into account the views expressed by our stakeholders in both the compilation of this Report and in our future planning around each issue. We hope that our reporting demonstrates our commitment to considering stakeholders’ opinions as part of our business activity and that it also responds to many of their concerns.