The guidelines that govern our business
This page is not a complete description of Group policies and standards, but offers an overview of those likely to be of particular interest to stakeholders, with links to the documents.
Our Standards of Business Conduct are an integral part of the Group’s governance and, together with our Business Principles, underpin our commitment to high standards of corporate responsibility. The Standards apply to all Group companies and employees and require high standards of behaviour and integrity wherever our businesses operate. Each company is required to adopt them or local policies which reflect them and each employee is expected to know and comply with their provisions. Each General Manager and Head of Function must sign a letter annually confirming compliance and continuous information on performance against the Standards is gathered and reported quarterly to the Board Audit Committee.
Our Statement of Business Principles forms the basis on which we expect our businesses to be run in terms of responsibility. Developed with the help of stakeholders in dialogue, it consists of three Business Principles: Mutual Benefit, Responsible Product Stewardship and Good Corporate Conduct, and eighteen Core Beliefs. All Group companies have adopted the Statement and are encouraged to engage in stakeholder dialogue to help determine how it should best be reflected in their business practices. The Business Principles and Core Beliefs form the basis for our continuous auditing of Group companies’ CSR performance.
Stakeholders in dialogue also helped British American Tobacco p.l.c. to develop our Business Principles into a Framework for CSR. We believe this may provide a blueprint for a responsible tobacco business and a basis for ongoing stakeholder dialogue. Within the Framework, each Core Belief offers three areas of responsibility, which attempt to address the nature of appropriate contributions for a commercial organisation:
British American Tobacco is committed to corporate transparency. It recognises that as a responsible company, all engagement activities that it undertakes must be guided by internal standards. The principles and standards set out here form British American Tobacco’s ‘Principles for Engagement’. All Group companies and employees are required to act in accordance with the Principles for Engagement. British American Tobacco does support third parties on policy issues of mutual interest, but will never ask a third party to conduct itself in any way that contravenes these ‘Principles for Engagement’.
Our International Marketing Principles (IMP) set down detailed guidance on all aspects of our marketing of our conventional combustible tobacco products and our portfolio of potentially reduced-risk products – from print, billboards and electronic media to promotional events, packaging and sponsorship. Central to the IMP is our long-held commitment to ensuring that no marketing activity is directed at, or particularly appeals to, youth. The IMP are globally applicable and in some countries exceed the requirements of local laws. Adherence by our companies forms part of our regular internal audit process, supported by annual self-certification by management and Audit Committee review. We publicly report any instances of incomplete adherence each year.
We updated our International Marketing Principles (IMP) in October 2018 to apply across all our products. This reflects the expansion of our product portfolio to include, alongside our conventional combustible tobacco products, a range of potentially reduced-risk products, including vapour, tobacco heating products and oral products. The IMP replace our previous International Marketing Principles, Vapour Products Marketing Principles and Snus Marketing Standards.
Our Employment Principles build on our commitment to good employment practices and workplace related human rights. They set out a common approach to our companies’ development of policies and procedures, while recognising that each company must take account of local labour law and practice and the local political, economic and cultural context. All our companies have committed to the Employment Principles and, through our internal audit process, are required to demonstrate that they are embedding them in the workplace. Our auditing also monitors that our companies are strongly encouraging key suppliers to meet similar standards.
Our Supplier Code of Conduct complements our Group Standards of Business Conduct by defining the minimum standards we expect our suppliers to adhere to in order to supply goods or services to BAT and any BAT Group company. This builds upon our long-standing commitment to operating to the highest standards of corporate conduct for both our own business operations and our wider supply chain. It also supports our continuing commitment to respect human rights and uphold international standards, including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
We accept that our companies’ operations affect the environment and we are committed to following high standards of environmental protection, adhering to the principles of sustainable development and protecting biodiversity.
We aim to apply the best international standards of practice relating to the health and safety of employees at work and non-company personnel on company premises and to give a high priority to these activities. The Statement is backed by detailed specific requirements.