We strongly believe that empowerment is about harnessing the diversity of our people to grow and strengthen our business – and that we are leading the charge in the tobacco sector in this regard.

Our empowerment approach

Doing the right thing, exercising our responsibility to society, and unleashing our people’s talents is integral to our business strategy. Our company transformation is underpinned by the standards, values and principles contained in our global Standards of Business Conduct, Business Principles, and our BAT Ethos.

We believe that South Africa can achieve an adaptable, sustainable and growing economy if it harnesses the strengths of all its people and communities and uses diversity as a catalyst to solve social challenges and enhance economic performance.

As a result, our Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) efforts include initiatives focused on employment equity, skills development, preferential procurement, and enterprise and supplier development. Our efforts show our commitment to transforming the South African tobacco sector, across the full supply chain.

Empowerment programmes and initiatives

BATSA’s empowerment initiatives support previously disadvantaged individuals by providing training and education to unlock opportunities for self-improvement and self-sufficiency. This is done by way of skill development programmes, a dedicated focus on agricultural initiatives that positively impact the tobacco value chain, retail and supplier support programmes, and scholarships and learnerships for young adults. Some of our most prominent programmes include:

The Emerging Farmers Initiative (EFI)

Launched in 2011, the EFI programme is designed to effect real transformation in tobacco farming. It not only complements our own agricultural, environmental and biodiversity conservation practices, but also supports transformation in the South African economic and agricultural sectors.

The programme supports emerging farmers in four provinces to farm sun-cured Virginia tobacco and food crops (vegetable, maize and beans) on a rotational farming basis, which ensures the farmers, their families and their communities have a sustainable crop mix that provides financial and food security. Since inception, the EFI has worked with 164 farmers, farming at 15 sites across four provinces, touching 4,300 beneficiaries, and offering support through incubation, training and mentorship.

The EFI has been wholly funded by BATSA since its inception, with the objective of empowering aspirant farmers who require the necessary skills and assistance to become self-sufficient and participate in the tobacco value chain. The programme focuses on mentorship, training and crop inputs. In 2021 alone, the programme created 323 jobs (60% of which were for women) and supported more than 500 beneficiaries.

Gender empowerment and female representation

BAT’s global ambition is to achieve 45% female representation in managerial levels and across the business by 2025.

To achieve this, we have placed gender as one of the key pillars of our overall diversity & inclusion (D&I) strategy.

Clearly defined guidelines have been developed for each grade and functions to highlight our 2025 targets and quarterly performance tracking is in place. Tracking of joiners, movers and leavers is also in place, to ensure that BAT is positioned to attract, promote and retain key female talent. 

Progression: support for disabled learners

We are focused on empowering and developing a diverse talent across Africa. Aligned to our ESG and D&I agenda, BATSA has partnered with Progression, an organisation focusing on skill development and opportunity creation for disabled and disadvantaged young adults. The programme was designed to provide learners with both functional and leadership skills, while also offering them exposure to the working environment.

Through the programme, we aim to build the capabilities required in the world of work while understanding the importance of developing a diverse workforce in our ambition to achieve A Better Tomorrow™. With BATSA’s support, Progression supports learners over the age of 18 with a monthly stipend as well as practical career skills focused on business, office administration and computing. The BATSA Progression programme runs for 12 months, with learners leaving equipped with wider career skills, including CV writing, interview skills and online application processes.

Intern @ BAT

The company also runs a comprehensive intern programme across all divisions of the business, focusing on upskilling, empowering, and training entry-level students, with a view to realising their potential. In addition to business and industry information, the programme also covers presentation skills, project management, engagement and what we term ‘leading self’ – the ability to self-motivate and reach one’s own potential.