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Responsible Agriculture

G4-HR10
Percentage of new suppliers screened using human rights criteria

G4-HR10

Audits & Assessments

R.J. Reynolds itself, and on behalf of the other RAI tobacco operating companies with which it has service agreements, has a comprehensive program of audits and assessments throughout our tobacco procurement supply chain. Through these processes, we review environmental and social risks inherent in agricultural work for both domestic growers with which we contract directly, and domestic and international suppliers from which we purchase leaf.

Grower Audits

R.J. Reynolds itself, and on behalf of its affiliates that purchase tobacco, was the first U.S. tobacco company to engage a third-party auditor to audit contracted farm practices against Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) standards, including environmental, agronomic and labor practices and standards.

Farm audits include personal interviews with a minimum of 20 percent of the workforce on each farm. Interviews occur outside the presence of the grower and are an important source of information about labor practices. R.J. Reynolds was the first company to include such interviews in its audits, and the first to make them public.

In 2016, Arche Advisors conducted 341 audits on R.J. Reynolds contracted tobacco farms. During these audits, Arche conducted 266 farm worker interviews. Arche assessors reported that “all employees were willing to speak with the assessors and appeared to speak freely.”

In addition to third-party audits, the company also conducts assessments in which an employee of R.J. Reynolds visits a farm and assesses compliance with GAP standards.

Our goal is to audit or assess, at least every three years, 100 percent of contracted growers in the U.S. against GAP standards and our grower code of conduct. Non-compliance with applicable laws is grounds for termination of the contract.

Since 2011, we have audited a significant number of our U.S. grower base.

YearThird-Party AuditsAssessmentsContracted Growers% Audited or Assessed
2011941,0762,09851
201231402,22814
2013* 5722,17126
2014992942,08918
2015373931,96724
20163413051,96733
2016 (Goal)350431,96720
2017 (Goal)300359
1,977
33
*No audits due to transition to GAP Connections
In 2017 R.J. Reynolds Tobacco will deploy a new tool for use during grower assessments. The tool, developed by GAP Connections, can be used by the assessor during grower visits to document crop, environment and labor management practices.

Supplier Audits

In addition to directly contracted growers, R.J. Reynolds and its affiliates who purchase tobacco also audit contracted leaf suppliers. R.J. Reynolds contracts AB Sustain, an international auditing organization, to conduct third-party audits of all tobacco leaf suppliers that sell tobacco to R.J. Reynolds, ASC and SFNTC. AB Sustain’s Sustainable Tobacco Production (STP) program has become the industry standard in tobacco production, providing guidance and support, validation, and a step-based approach to facilitate continuous improvement. This program provides a platform for periodic review of our leaf supply chain and covers key sustainability areas, such as:

  • Safety
  • Carbon footprint
  • Farmer training
  • Soil and water conservation
  • Biodiversity
  • Child labor
  • Equal opportunity employment
  • Factory work environment

Through the STP program, we monitor leaf suppliers’ performance against criteria pertaining to sustainability and create an environment of knowledge transfer, capacity building and continuous improvement within our leaf supplier base. Tobacco suppliers complete an online self-assessment annually which allows them to assess their performance and identify improvement opportunities.

AB Sustain performs on-site verification reviews of all suppliers in the program at least every three years. These audits ensure suppliers are accurately responding to the STP questionnaire and verify a supplier’s responses against documented evidence. Suppliers are provided with feedback to help them advance their environmental and social footprints and perform any necessary corrective actions. The R.J. Reynolds leaf procurement leadership team meets quarterly to review STP submissions and supplier progress.

R.J. Reynolds, as a supplier of leaf to international purchasers, is held to the same standards to which we hold our international suppliers, and is audited by AB Sustain in the same manner.