British American Tobacco - BAT launches tobacco industry-first Human Rights Report

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10 December 2020

BAT launches tobacco industry-first Human Rights Report

Our Human Rights Report is an industry-first and highlights our commitment and actions to protect human rights across our global business and supply chain.

BAT is the first tobacco company to launch a Human Rights Report - click here to view.

The report highlights the extensive measures we have taken to promote, uphold and protect human rights across our supply chain, which includes 90,000 directly-contracted farmers. 

The report was published on UN Human Rights Day which, this year, focused on the global impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on human rights. Ensuring the health and welfare of all employees around the world is central to our strategy to build A Better Tomorrow for all of our stakeholders.

Below we give a snapshot on the work we’re doing to protect human rights during the pandemic.

Playing our part in the global response

Vaccine development We are using novel tobacco plant technology to develop a COVID-19 vaccine candidate that has been submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration for review. We hope to progress into clinical trials in the US before the end of 2020.

Testing and logistical support We are deploying our strong capabilities in science, engineering and logistics to support national responses to COVID-19. This includes loaning specialist equipment for COVID-19 testing, manufacturing hand sanitisers and personal protective equipment (PPE) in our factories, as well as making donations to many funds around the world supporting local efforts.

Supporting our suppliers and communities

Protecting vulnerable farming communities We are supporting tobacco-growing communities that may be particularly vulnerable to both the virus and its long-term economic implications. We have worked to keep farms and trading floors operating safely, have distributed PPE and other essential items, and in countries such as Kenya, we have enhanced access to clean water and handwashing facilities.

Supplier engagement We have maintained fast, two-way engagement channels with suppliers to help ensure we can respond together to the ever-changing situation. We have also helped suppliers struggling with cashflow issues by ensuring that, where needed, they are paid earlier than existing payment terms require.

Upholding standards

Human rights due diligence Where on-site supplier audits, as part of our human rights due diligence, have not been possible during travel and lockdown restrictions, we have worked to implement alternatives, including self-assessment questionnaires and ‘virtual audits’.

Employee training We are ensuring our employees still get the training they need on our Standards of Business Conduct (SoBC). For those without easy online access, who would normally have face-to-face group training sessions, we have developed a training booklet that can be safely accessed through our SoBC app.

Looking after our people

Safeguarding wellbeing We have implemented a wide range of measures to create ‘COVID-19-secure’ workplaces, and have reinforced the extensive wellbeing support available to our employees, including online medical consultations and mental health support. Our digital transformation over recent years means we were well-placed to move to remote home working where needed.

Keeping engaged We have worked to ensure all our employees, wherever they are working, feel connected and engaged, such as with our #StrongerTogether virtual 24-hour event for all our employees worldwide in July 2020. Our employee networks have also adapted to the challenges of COVID-19, such as our B United LGBT+ network holding virtual Pride celebrations around the world.