british american tobacco p.l.c. sustainability report 2009 - Working to embed sustainability in the business


Sustainability in the businessTo make significant progress against our sustainability agenda, we need robust, commercial sustainability plans. We also need to ensure that our people throughout the business understand that sustainability benefits, rather than compromises, commercial success.

We aim to achieve this in four ways:

  1. Adapting our approach to dialogue to enable us to develop our sustainability plans jointly with stakeholders.
  2. Working with our companies in our largest markets to develop plans that are relevant to our different operating environments and that can be rolled out to embed sustainability across the Group.
  3. Enhancing our senior managers’ understanding of the concept of sustainability and the value it can deliver.
  4. Establishing centres of expertise to support our companies in pursuing our sustainability agenda.

We started our work in these areas during 2009 and will make further progress in 2010, as described below.

Adapting our approach to dialogue

Dialogue has been instrumental in changing the way we think about our business over the past 10 years. In common with many other organisations, it has helped us to take stakeholder views into account and has enabled us to make better business decisions.

We are exploring how we might adapt our approach and build on our experience to move from listening to stakeholders’ concerns and comments, to the joint development of plans to drive our sustainability agenda goals. We aim to incorporate a number of elements into our approach to achieve this:

  • Engagement with a wider range of stakeholders, in order to make sure that we are considering everything we should. We will continue to invite those who are more critical of us and those who will be directly impacted by the outcomes. This will mean fewer sessions but each dialogue will include larger numbers of stakeholders.
  • Greater involvement from a wider range of our own senior managers in the dialogue process to enhance commitment and understanding within the business.
  • A shift in focus from gathering expectations or feedback on existing proposals to generating new plans, ideas and activities.

These elements have already influenced our approach and you can see in the Supply chain section how they have shaped our recent dialogue session around our supply chain goal.

Working with our companies

In the past, sustainability initiatives have largely been driven by our central teams. In future, we will be encouraging greater local ownership of projects and the sharing of expertise among our companies. We aim to work with our companies in our largest markets to drive sustainability in our business, evolving best practice that can then be adopted across other markets. We believe this will create a more globally integrated approach to the development of our sustainability agenda.

Building a Group-wide understanding of sustainability

We run a week-long sustainability-focused senior managers’ training programme and we are looking to embed sustainability into other functional programmes. Feedback from the participants has been very positive and indicates that attitudes towards sustainability are changing as a result of the training.

In our revised approach to dialogue, we aim to involve a much larger number of our managers to enhance their understanding of sustainability issues and to enable us to incorporate their expertise in developing our sustainability agenda.

As well as raising sustainability awareness among senior management, we aim to increase understanding among all employees in the Group. Our communications at both Group-wide and local levels are intended to provide our people with the right tools to make more sustainable decisions.

Establishing centres of expertise

We have created centres of expertise to enable global alignment and to support our local operations in delivering our business goals. These centres of expertise include sustainability, regulation, scientific affairs, and marketing and supply chain practices. They aim to drive consistency across markets and provide clarity on implementation.