british american tobacco p.l.c. sustainability report 2010 - Key steps on our journey

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Sustainability Report 2010

10 yearsAs our 10th publication, this Sustainability Report is a particularly important milestone for us. We believe this long history of reporting demonstrates a serious commitment to corporate responsibility and sustainability.

In 2001, we were the first tobacco company to begin social reporting and, from the outset, we applied a rigorous approach to our reporting processes at both Group and local level. This included following the AA1000 Standard and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines; third party assurance of all our Reports; and conducting independently facilitated stakeholder dialogue sessions.

This approach has allowed us to meet greater demands for corporate transparency and, over the past 10 years, has been instrumental in changing the way we think about our business. Dialogue has helped us to take stakeholder views into account, enabling us to make better business decisions and independent assurance has been essential in supporting our commitment to continuous improvement.

Some of the key steps in our journey can be seen below, many of which were influenced by our stakeholders.

  • Expanded our Sustainability Report to include activities and performance data for companies in nine of our largest markets.
  • Began the development of an integrated supply chain sustainability strategy based on stakeholder input.
  • Revised our CSR governance processes including aligning our CSR risk identification and management process with audit procedures.
  • Published our first Sustainability Report.
  • Unilaterally updated and strengthened our International Marketing Standards in response to stakeholders.
  • Developed our sustainability agenda and began the transition from social to sustainability reporting.
  • Announced the second term of the British American Tobacco Biodiversity Partnership with a commitment of £1.5 million a year for five years.
  • Launched snus, a type of smokeless tobacco, in Sweden and South Africa as part of our commitment to harm reduction and in response to stakeholder expectations.
  • Reviewed, with stakeholders in dialogue, our global policies and strategies for alignment with our Business Principles and Framework for CSR.
  • Launch of Opens in new window covering brands sold by our companies in the EU. The website now covers brands sold in more than 170 countries.
  • Published first Social Report and local reports published in 14 of our companies.
  • Developed our Statement of Business Principles and Framework for CSR in consultation with stakeholders, supported by the Institute of Business Ethics.
  • Held our first stakeholder dialogue sessions.
  • Established formal CSR governance structure.
  • Developed our International Marketing Standards with Phillip Morris International and Japan Tobacco International.
  • Formation of the Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation.
  • Established the British American Tobacco Biodiversity Partnership, with a commitment of £1 million a year for five years.

Evolving our approach

In 2007, in response to an external shift in best practice standards, we began to make the transition from social to sustainability reporting. This meant evolving our approach from very comprehensive and detailed Social Reports, to developing our sustainability agenda to focus on the most material issues for stakeholders and our business.

This shift in reporting has allowed us to produce shorter, more focused Sustainability Reports, while still maintaining transparency by covering other issues elsewhere on our corporate website Opens in new window. With more meaningful targets, performance measures and a forward-looking view, we believe this approach helps to clearly demonstrate progress to stakeholders, as well as driving progress internally.

In 2009, we made the decision to produce one Sustainability Report for the Group, including balanced scorecards and case studies for nine of our largest markets. This approach, together with our communications on Opens in new window, aims to provide comprehensive coverage of the Group’s sustainability efforts globally.

Not producing local reports has helped free up time and resources for our companies to concentrate on the implementation of sustainability initiatives, with stakeholder dialogue remaining central to the approach. Our companies have continued to engage with their stakeholders to help shape their local sustainability plans and initiatives. You can read about how our company in Nigeria has adapted to this approach in its case study Nigeria's approach to engagement and reporting.

Over the years we have built a strong reputation for CSR and sustainability and have been seen by some as leaders in our industry: from being the first tobacco company to be included in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, continuing our inclusion to date; to receiving a number of reporting awards; to achieving platinum status in the UK Business in the Community Corporate Responsibility Index.

However, we also recognise that we do not have all the answers and that sustainability is a long-term commitment for which we need to continually evolve our approach.