British American Tobacco South Africa has deep roots in this country: we’ve been operating here for over a century. The success of our company is intertwined with the success of the country so, to me, our commitment to sustainability makes no sense if it isn’t also a commitment to sustainable development in South Africa.
The Group sustainability agenda gives us a clear framework for focusing on the issues that are most material for the Group as a whole and those that matter most to people here in South Africa.
For example, HIV/AIDS is a really serious problem here and this can affect our employees, our consumers, our suppliers – in short, our business. We’ve made good progress in addressing this, not least by evolving our HIV/AIDS support into a broader employee wellbeing programme. This has made it easier for employees to access testing and treatment without fear of being stigmatised.
Another important issue here is the fact that most Black1 South Africans still hold little economic power. Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment is about creating an inclusive and prosperous society in which all South Africans can participate fully. For British American Tobacco South Africa, encouraging Black South Africans to prosper in our workforce or wider supply chain means that we don’t miss out on talented individuals who may have much to offer our business.
According to the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa illegal cigarettes make up over 20 per cent of the total cigarette market in South Africa, so tackling illicit trade is another major focus for us. The media campaign we launched last year helped to raise public awareness and we will continue to tackle the issue.
We know we need to be ‘future fit’ to continue to deliver value to shareholders and other stakeholders. And that means meeting our sustainability goals.Brian Finch, Managing Director, British American Tobacco South Africa