Female leaders at forefront of BAT’s vision for inclusivity
Published : Mar 8, 2023 - 17:11
Updated : Mar 8, 2023 - 17:11
(From left) Elly Criticou, global category director of tobacco heating products, BAT Rothmans Country Manager Kim Eun-ji, and Emma Dean, head of marketing for the North Asia area, attend BAT's recent press conference held in Seoul on Feb. 14. (BAT Rothmans)

March 8, International Women's Day, has been a day to rally in support of gender equality and promote inclusivity across all areas globally. British American Tobacco, the cigarette giant, is one of the leading players in advocating the theme, “Embrace Equity,” in multiple areas of its workplace.

BAT, which operates regional offices worldwide, including one in South Korea under the name, BAT Rothmans, says female leaders are at the forefront of the company’s vision for inclusivity and business innovation.

The Korean unit last month held a press conference in Seoul to unveil the Glo Hyper X2, the latest addition to its heat-not-burn tobacco brand, Glo. And the three BAT executives who took their places at the podium to introduce the new product were all women -- a pleasant surprise for many.

In the predominantly male-led tobacco industry, it is rare to see women occupy a significant portion of company demographics, especially in higher executive positions. But this multinational group of senior leaders -- Kim Eun-ji, Elly Criticou and Emma Dean, all of whom happen to be non-smoking women -- are known for their extensive professional backgrounds in a range of fields from marketing to development, as well as their contributions to fostering an equitable corporate culture.

Kim, head of the Korean unit, BAT Rothmans, in particular, is an industry veteran who joined BAT as a manager for the Dunhill brand. She is one of the key figures who led the stunning growth of Dunhill as the No. 1 brand in terms of market share. After that, Kim served in diverse leadership positions such as sales chief in Korea and brand chief in Indonesia. In 2021, she became the country manager, becoming the first female CEO within the nation’s tobacco industry.

However, these women are not the only reason BAT is recognized for promoting the theme of embracing equity.

In 2019, the group elected Kim Hae-in, the only Asian woman on the management board, to the position of director, talent and culture designate.

Also, over 35 percent of the board of directors is comprised of women, according to data provided by BAT, and the group runs 19 friendship networks for employees of minority backgrounds such as in the LGBTQ and Black communities.

BAT is also looking to the future with aims to raise the ratio of women in management to over 40 percent and expand ethnic diversity among regional leaders significantly by 2025.

As a result, BAT has received the National Equality Standard certification in the UK as well as that of the Global Equality Standard. These standards are known to assess global companies strictly by evaluating their policies, governance, pay gap and more.

BAT Rothmans and BAT Manufacturing Korea also ranked among the 2023 100 Best Workplaces in Korea. In particular, they were acknowledged as ideal places to work for working mothers and Millennials with the implementation of flexible parental leave policies and “workcation” systems.

The group credited hiring a diverse pool of talent as the reason it is able to encourage mutual respect among employees, thus creating an equitable work environment.

All of BAT’s efforts are rooted in the group’s philosophy of boldness, empowerment, responsibility and diversity, which reflects the core values of International Women’s Day.

By Yu Ji-soo (