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Culture and ethos: driving success in a post-COVID

15th Jul 2021
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Over the past year, businesses around the world have had to adapt to the evolving challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our priority throughout has been to safeguard the wellbeing of our people while ensuring our business continues to operate effectively.

BAT has been exceptionally resilient during this unusually challenging time. This is down to the grit and determination of our 55,000+ colleagues, as well as our culture and ethos, which have enabled us to build an engaged, agile and high performing organisation.

At BAT, we are no strangers to change and adaptation. At the start of the pandemic, we were already in the most dynamic period of transformation in our 119-year history – and it’s a journey we’re continuing.  Our purpose is to build A Better Tomorrow™ by reducing the health impact of our business and, today, we look very different to the BAT of 1902.

Against the backdrop of this external and internal change, our culture and ethos – being Bold, Fast, Empowered, Responsible and Diverse – remain the constants. Our ethos enables us to be responsive to constant change, encourages a learning culture and continuous improvement. In an ever-changing world, our culture and ethos are crucial to our success and our resilience.

Digital transformation

As we transform, developing new capabilities in our people is a core priority, which is supported by our increasingly data-led and digitally enabled approach.

We are embedding digital skills and tools via our Digital DNA programme, which is sharpening capabilities including agile ways of working, design thinking, storytelling, exponential technologies and data science. To date, more than 11,000 hours of Digital DNA training have been completed, and more than 70% of our senior marketing leadership teams around the world have taken part in virtual digital immersion programmes. 

Our digital learning platform, The Grid, supports our learning culture. Launched in 2020, it brings together all of our training in one accessible place, providing personalised digital learning opportunities for our employees.

In 2020, we also expanded our use of learning content from our long-standing content partner, LinkedIn Learning, which is available to all BAT employees.

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I)

Diversity and inclusion have always been important to us, and never more so than today. We are a global company operating in 180+ markets across the world, and our inclusive culture has long been at our core. Today, our diversity and inclusion play a critical role in how we are building A Better Tomorrow™, allowing us to better understand the varied and evolving preferences of our consumers around the world and to innovate in the face of continued change.

D&I is not a ‘once and done’ process, and our work to build diverse pipelines of talent at all levels continues.

Today, we have 33% female representation on our Board, 15% on our Management Board and 27% on senior leadership teams across the Group. We are proud of what we have achieved but we recognise there is more to be done.

Our 2025 global ambitions include increasing the number of women in senior leadership teams to 40%, in management roles to 45%; and achieving a 50% spread of nationalities within key leadership teams to better mirror our consumer base.

We have a range of mentoring and coaching opportunities to support the development of our future female leaders across our global landscape through our Women in Leadership programme.

In 2020, we implemented our IGNITE programme, an initiative for experienced professionals who are returning to the workplace following a break. To date, we have successfully supported women into roles in our R&D Centre and UK business who have taken breaks ranging from 18 months to four years.

D&I can also be driven and supported through internal networks. At BAT we have 19 affinity networks around the Group, including Women in the UK, B United (a self-governed global community of LGBTQ+ employees) and B YOU (a self-governed community for African Americans at Reynolds, our US business). These networks celebrate the differences among our employees and are a source of strength for our business. Empowering and encouraging our people to value and bring their difference to work has resulted in a more engaged and united workforce which has proved critical during recent months.

Throughout our transformational journey, and the global pandemic, we have worked hard to sustain a supportive and inclusive workplace, while continuing to invest in developing our people.

Now more than ever, it is important that companies continue to invest in and support a positive culture, their ethos and their people. They are the crucial elements to business success and resilience in a COVID-19 world.

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