The issue of human rights cuts across many aspects of our business, from workplace rights to child labour in tobacco farming. We revised our approach to human rights in 2008, partly in response to a dedicated stakeholder dialogue session that year, and we made further refinements in 2009:
- We now use three respected external sources to identify countries for review from a human rights perspective.
- Our Board CSR Committee has a standing agenda item to discuss the situation in countries under review.
- Our regional audit and CSR committees, which meet three times a year, receive updates on countries that our external sources identify as being of potential concern to stakeholders. The committees also conduct detailed reviews of other countries in their regions, as appropriate.
- In response to stakeholder requests, we published a short paper on www.bat.com , further summarising our approach to human rights and how we manage them within the business and in our supply chain.
In 2009, our Board CSR Committee conducted in-depth reviews of our management of human rights issues in six countries. These included assessments of whether our companies in these countries could operate to the standards that we expect across the Group and the Committee was satisfied that they could.
Our internal audit checklist requires all our companies to have systems to demonstrate that human rights are managed effectively in the workplace and supply chain. In practice this means that, for example, our Employment Principles and Statement of Business Principles have been communicated and embedded and that our supply chain management tools (BEST and SRTP - see the Supply chain section) have been applied where appropriate.
In 2009, there were no instances of non-compliance reported and only four of our companies reported instances of partial compliance, none of which reflected any systematic shortcomings in the management of human rights.
Human rights and our suppliers
In 2009, we developed an approach that addresses human rights along with other sustainability issues. This will be incorporated into UK supplier contracts for use in 2010 and will also be offered to our local companies for inclusion in their supplier documentation. We are currently looking into building similar considerations into our framework agreements with global suppliers.
Human rights: what’s next? We will continue to embed human rights practices in 2010. Human rights will also be considered in the further development of our supply chain management systems and we will continue to work with the Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation to tackle child labour issues.