BAT creates IWD toolkit to engage global community in equality campaign

IWD Best Practice Winners

Global engagement is vitally important to spread the message of gender equality.

For International Women's Day, British American Tobacco (BAT) created a toolkit around the #BalanceforBetter theme to help their offices around the world organise their own IWD event and make this year's celebrations as diverse and inclusive as they could possibly be. Offices were able to organise an event or activity as a whole organization or just within small teams or as individuals.

Based on the #BalanceforBetter theme, BAT wanted people to think about the importance of gender balance, so they split the theme into two parts and instructed offices globally to focus their activities on: the meaning of #BalanceforBetter and role models who inspire others to forge a more gender balanced world.

BAT's toolkit included background information on IWD, its history, meaning and importance; the IWD toolkit itself, including example activities for offices and all the materials (templates of selfie cards and posters) ready for printing and distribution; and guidelines on how to run a local #BalanceforBetter campaign, including guidance on social media promotion.

Communicating BAT's Diversity and Inclusion strategy

2019 was BAT's second year celebrating IWD. Getting involved in IWD helped the company champion and communicate its own group-wide Diversity and Inclusion strategy that has been in place since 2012. The strategy has core objectives around having a more gender-balanced organisation with a better representation of women in senior roles. It also promotes ways employees can individually contribute to achieving BAT's common diversity focus and goals.

British American Tobacco international IWD events

Engaging senior leaders in IWD campaign

British American Tobacco leaders Balance for Better

BAT wanted to maximise participation in its IWD campaign, and one way to achieve this was by reaching out to its senior management to sponsor the global campaign and inspire others to participate.

British American Tobacco leaders support Balance for Better

British American Tobacco IWD selfies

BAT's London headquarters invites inspiring speakers

Inspired by BAT's toolkit, most of the company’s global offices ran a #BalanceforBetter campaign localised in a variety of ways.

BAT's London headquarters hosted an event that focused on its commitment to driving the diversity agenda. The session included talks from three inspiring speakers: Sue Farr, BAT Non-Executive Director; Cagla Bekbolet, UK Managing Partner, Egon-Zehnder; and Shweta Munshi, BAT’s Head of Digital Marketing.

British American Tobacco leaders Balance for Better events

The speakers addressed the issue of gender diversity and shared insights on best practices for driving an inclusive culture while drawing from their experiences and careers to date. The event was hosted by then-Group HR Director Giovanni Giordano and his successor Hae In Kim, Director, Talent & Culture.

British American Tobacco leaders Balance for Better IWD speakers

Inviting employees to answer questions on gender parity

In some countries BAT organised a contest where everyone was invited to film themselves answering the questions: “Who inspires you to forge a more gender balanced world?” and "What does Balance for Better mean to you?" 

After receiving the videos, BAT put together materials that promoted gender balance, its meaning, and inspiring reasons why we should all contribute to more gender balanced world. Winners were announced in different categories that were directly linked to accelerating gender parity.

Welcoming experts on gender diversity issues 

Other BAT offices also welcomed external speakers  specialising in gender diversity topics, who explained the importance of gender balance and the ways everyone can contribute to achieving it. This initiative received very positive feedback, particularly that BAT's continuous involvement in the campaign is important in educating people on the meaning of IWD and gender balance and finding different ways to support its acceleration.

British American Tobacco Balance for Better IWD cakes

BAT's IWD campaign really understood the importance of making gender equality efforts inclusive and accessible for all. Through engaging its international community and encouraging each office to organize its own unique event, BAT made sure that its important message of a #BalanceforBetter had both a wide and focused reach.

British American Tobacco Balance for Better global events

"It's an honour for us to be a part of such an amazing campaign," says Eka Gvimradze, Global Diversity and Inclusion Manager. 

British American Tobacco women graduates


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