british american tobacco p.l.c. sustainability report 2010 - Nigeria’s approach to engagement and reporting

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Sustainability Report 2010

British American Tobacco Nigeria published its first Social Report in 2003 and has produced four Reports since. The practice of social reporting is not widespread in Nigeria and corporate social responsibility (CSR) is often considered synonymous with philanthropy. Most other companies in the country tend to focus their reporting on community development issues, rather than on the social and environmental impacts of their business operations.

British American Tobacco Nigeria is also one of only a few companies in the country to carry out stakeholder dialogue.

In 2009, a decision was made to cease local reporting and instead produce one Sustainability Report for the Group. Not producing a full Social Report has freed up resources at British American Tobacco Nigeria to implement sustainability initiatives, with stakeholder dialogue remaining central to its approach.

In the past, stakeholder dialogue has proved challenging for British American Tobacco Nigeria as some stakeholders have been reluctant to engage with the company.

However, through its programme of stakeholder engagement over the past seven years, the company has built a reputation for openness and transparency. Using a robust methodology for dialogue, including independent facilitation, up-to-date stakeholder mapping and reporting on outcomes from the dialogue, has also helped to gain stakeholders’ trust.

As a result, stakeholders who would not engage with the company previously are now willing to come to the table. British American Tobacco Nigeria has developed relationships with a diverse group of stakeholders, including government agencies, tobacco farmers, consumers, suppliers and academics. Such widespread engagement has meant that the company has been able to take stakeholder views into account to make better business decisions.

For example, through a dialogue session, the company received the feedback that its stakeholders would like it to run youth smoking prevention campaigns in partnership with non-profit organisations and the Nigerian Government. As a result, it has partnered with Action Health Incorporated, a respected local NGO, to deliver an educational campaign that will be independently evaluated.

In 2010, British American Tobacco Nigeria published a Stakeholder Report based on the outputs of two dialogue sessions held in 2009.

The first session was on the company’s approach to CSR and sustainability at a local level and the Group’s new approach to reporting. Participants included representatives from government agencies, NGOs, business and academia.

The second session was on the illicit tobacco trade in Nigeria and involved government representatives, professional bodies, consultants, the company’s own employees and the media. The aim was to identify ways to reduce the trade in illicit cigarettes through cooperation between business and government.

You can read more about these dialogues and the company’s response in British American Tobacco Nigeria’s Stakeholder Report which can be downloaded at Opens in new window.

This transition from comprehensive local reporting to reports focused on stakeholder dialogue sessions has proved to be very straightforward. The company believes that this new approach meets the expectations of its stakeholders by continuing to demonstrate responsiveness, transparency and accountability.

British American Tobacco Nigeria will continue to engage with stakeholders to help develop its approach to sustainability and inform business decisions.


Stakeholder comment

The organisation suffers a double whammy; a successful organisation that is the target of competitors and hate campaigns; the controversial nature of its product which will lead to the conclusion that the major challenge will be on a level of credibility.
Stakeholder in dialogue on CSR/sustainability

Stakeholder comment

The expectation is that BAT Nigeria just like other taxpayers should demonstrate integrity... BAT Nigeria needs to collaborate with other stakeholders to fight illicit tobacco trade through synergies...
Stakeholder in dialogue on illicit trade