11 March 2010

8.1 people killed per 1 employee - not your usual CSR KPI

Imperial Tobacco has just released their latest Corporate Responsibility report. Congratulations. 

They have even gone to the trouble of creating a GRI Index and declaring a level of B+ for their report. Since the GRI has a policy that no matter how harmful the products of the reporting company, if the company complies with the standard, they can say it is a GRI compliant report. Maybe it is time for the GRI to draw the line - it takes more than ticking the boxes to be GRI compliant.

But back to the Imperial Tobacco report. There's lots of very interesting information in the report - business size, commitment to being a good employer, especially in relations to human rights, health and safety, etc. Indeed, Imperial Tobacco sets out to demonstrate that it is am exemplary employer, business, and indeed investment. My goodness, you can read all the information, or just look at the face of the employees on their website.
I expect most HR managers would love
to have employees looking so - enraptured
Imperial Tobacco employs some 38,000 people around the world. They also produced 322,000,000,000 (322 billion) cigarettes in 2009, according to their own figures. This accounts for something like 5.7% of all cigarettes produced in the world.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) something like 5,400,000 deaths per year (2004) are attributable to smoking. The WHO projects that deaths from smoking will rise to 10,000,000/year by 2020, so the number is certainly more than 5.4 million for 2009, but we'll use the 2004 numbers anyway.

So, 5.7% of the 5.4 million deaths would mean something like 307,000 deaths per year from the company's products.

An average of 8.1 people killed per 1 employee.

I looked, but couldn't find a GRI Indicator for people killed per employee. Strangely I could not find this information in their Corporate Responsibility report.

When it comes to benchmarking, I expect the tobacco industry probably has a better kill per employee ratio than almost any other major international industry.

As for the GRI Application Level of B+, personally I think the GRI should be embarrassed that their standard can be used to greenwash companies that deal in death. If they sold used syringes surely the GRI would say "Wait, you're speading AIDS. Don't justify your corporate responsibility by proving you create a report complying with our standard. You deal in death. Do not use us as cover."


  1. haha....funny article

  2. hello daniel, a very poignant view of CSR in this industry. No doubt you hit on a nerve. How can a Company whose product kills people be responsible? Perhaps, tactically, they would be better off calling their report a Sustainability Report. We might not consider their business responsible, but, until governments around the world legislate for elimination of the tobacco industry, they appear to be sustainable.


  3. Great and interesting blog post. However, I think that it might be to patronize readers of GRI reports, to say that a tobacco company can use GRI as means of greenwash.

    To the contrary, I think it is great that also companies with hazardous products start utilizing the GRI for reporting. This puts pressure on the industry.

    As we speak there are people working on industry supplements to the GRI framework. One of these days there will be a supplement for the tobacco industry, the arms industry and so forth. Maybe "people killed per employee" will be one of the performance indicators within the product responsibility protocol?

    Transparency is a good thing. Just because GRI, at the moment, does not shine light on wrongs within a specific industry, doesn't mean it will not in the future.

    And companies that has begun reporting according GRI will need good explanations to stop when the KPI's become inconvenient.

    I say, welcome to the GRI Imperial Tobacco.

  4. Reporting is NOT taking responsability. It is creating transparency which can be a first step towards taking responsibility. If the KPI 8.1 people killed per 1 employee is correct I admire the Tobacco company for their straight talk. So, now what do they do about it? Thats the real responsibility question. Because results matter - not GRI reporting!!!

  5. Tobacco value added is close to 17%, much higher than apparel. Would IP data guide a social policy? Is there a role for insurance and health care providers?