Having returned to British American Tobacco Nigeria just over two years ago, I’m so encouraged to see the progress that’s been made with regards to corporate social responsibility. I really believe we’re one of the leaders in this country when it comes to CSR.
In Nigeria, you say ‘CSR’ and people think ‘philanthropy’, because most companies focus just on community development issues. They don’t have the broader focus of looking at the social, environmental and economic impact of their business operations.
For example, we’re one of only a handful of companies in the country to carry out stakeholder dialogue. It’s helped to build our reputation for openness and transparency, which I think has helped stakeholders who previously would’ve refused to engage with us to now be more willing to do so.
This approach to dialogue has been brilliant for us: knowing what our stakeholders think means we can make better business decisions. And it’s introduced us to organisations that we can partner with to help address some of our mutual issues.
To be fair, some companies are showing more of an interest now. They’re asking about what we do so that they can learn from us. That’s really satisfying actually – to think that we’re not only making a difference ourselves, but encouraging other businesses to make more of a difference too.Beverley Spencer-Obatoyinbo, Managing Director, British American Tobacco Nigeria