british american tobacco p.l.c. sustainability report 2011 - Our response to the assurance statement

 
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Sustainability Report 2011

Learning from our assurance process
British American Tobacco's response to the 2011 assurance statement

An independent review of our approach is essential to support our commitment to continuous improvement. The review by Ernst & Young LLP of our Sustainability Report and of how it is aligned with the AA1000 Assurance Standard (2008) has highlighted a number of strengths in our reporting process, as well as where improvements could be made.

Inclusivity

Ernst & Young LLP concluded that we have been inclusive in our engagement with
stakeholders across the business in developing our approach to sustainability. However, they also shared our observation that some stakeholders refuse to engage with us because of the nature of our products. We hope that the changes we have made to our approach to dialogue will encourage wider participation.

Actions for us

  • Continue to try to engage with our critics; and
     
  • Continue to develop our approach to dialogue to include wider participation from different stakeholder groups.

Materiality

Our sustainability agenda was developed in 2007 using a three-stage materiality test to identify which issues we should include in our reporting. This was formally reviewed in 2009 and reviewed on an informal basis each year since.

Ernst & Young LLP concluded that we could have covered in more depth details of why targets have not been met, specifically on:

  • The development of new goals for our energy, waste and water measures and five-year milestones to monitor progress towards our long-term CO2e targets by end 2011. This has been delayed to allow time to review our approach and seek advice on the most appropriate measures to help ensure we continue to improve our performance.
     
  • Our aim to achieve a 70:30 ratio of local to expatriate senior managers in each business unit has not yet been reached. This was mainly the result of reorganisations over recent years. However, in 2011 we have seen an improvement in local representation compared to 2010 and believe this is a positive indication that we are once again progressing against this target.

Actions for us

  • Conduct a formal materiality review in 2012;
     
  • Announce new Group targets for our energy, waste and water measures, as well as CO2e milestones in our 2012 Report; and
     
  • Continue to report transparently on our progress against our goals and commitments.

Responsiveness

Ernst & Young LLP attended four stakeholder dialogue sessions held in the UK and Bangladesh, as described in the environment and supply chain sections. These dialogues were independently facilitated and were attended by senior management from British American Tobacco. Ernst & Young LLP concluded that content in this Report relating to these dialogues are an accurate and balanced summary.

In addition, Ernst & Young LLP interviewed our employees at Group, regional and local level and a selection of key external stakeholders on our approach to stakeholder engagement. Several examples where stakeholder opinion has influenced business decisions were noted in Ernst & Young’s observations.

We continue to involve stakeholders in helping to shape our sustainability plans and initiatives, such as through our dialogue sessions and with our newly formed Supply Chain Sustainability Stakeholder Panel. As well as including details of our stakeholder engagement in this Report, we also publish summaries of the key insights from our dialogue sessions and a number of our companies have published stakeholder reports based on the outputs of local dialogue sessions. These can be found at www.bat.com/reporting Opens in new window.

Actions for us

  • Continue to involve stakeholders directly in the development of plans to meet our sustainability goals; and
     
  • Continue to report transparently on our stakeholder engagement, including publishing summaries of our dialogue sessions on www.bat.com Opens in new window.
Named as one of the

top five

companies in the FTSE 350 for our approach to sustainability assurance in Carbon Smart’s 2011 report ‘Stuck on the starting blocks: The state of sustainability assurance in 2010’.
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