Our aim is to create a safe working environment and build organisational resilience to deliver sustainable long-term growth through our brands, markets and people. Behaving responsibly and running our business the right way is not just the right thing to do, it underpins the ongoing growth and development of Imperial Brands.


People who are appropriately trained, developed and rewarded will be better enabled to deliver our commercial strategy. This, in turn, contributes to increased employee engagement, productivity, strong customer service, high employee retention rates and new talent attraction. 

We take pride in what we do and how we do it. Our safety culture is integral to this and each and every one of us is encouraged to take personal responsibility for safety. Acting responsibly and with integrity has helped us create and sustain a successful business that can attract and retain talent. 


We are working to ensure that we have the right people with the right skills and behaviours working for the business today and tomorrow. In turn, we seek to provide a safe working environment that inspires employees to achieve the extraordinary.

Our people are at the heart of everything we do. Our people strategy is aligned with our commercial objectives and seeks to unlock potential, inspire and enable our people. It is focused on three core pillars, which together help our people globally:

  • Agility – ensuring we have the right structures, environment and tools to enable us to succeed;
  • Capability – attracting and developing the right people, with the right skills, at the right time in the right roles;
  • Performance – providing all employees with the right framework to manage their careers.



We seek to provide a safe working environment for our employees and those working for us.


Our business success is driven by our talented people.


We’re proud of our diverse and international workforce.


Our vision is to create a working environment where we take care of each other, everywhere, every day. We can only achieve our vision if each and every one of us takes personal responsibility for safety and therefore, in line with Our Values, our health and safety strategy identity is ‘I own safety’.

To help achieve our vision we have adopted a global Occupational Health Safety and Environmental framework based on the principles of ‘Plan Do Check Act’. Evaluation of risk control and incident management is an integral part of this review, informing our continual improvement process. We have developed a range of leading indicators to measure compliance against the framework and other key risks. 

There are a number of health and safety risks across our business, including risks from working at heights, operating machinery, slips, trips and falls, driving, environmental factors, handling tools and the presence of electricity, among others. We measure compliance with these and other risks through the use of leading indicators.

We reduce the risk of work-related injuries and ill health through behavioural training, risk assessment, risk management, accident investigation with root-cause analysis, reporting, audit and improvement planning.

We develop our local Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) management processes in line with the international standards OHSAS 18001 / ISO 45001.  

This year we launched the inaugural Drive Safe Awards. These Awards are focused on mitigating one of the biggest risk areas across our sales operations, by recognising and celebrating the best examples of road and driver safety. For further information read our case studies.

We have global procedures in place covering hazard identification, risk assessment and incident investigation. These are applicable to all locations and are audited as part of our internal and external audit programmes. 

We provide occupational healthcare services to meet the needs of our business and for continuous improvement. Some of our larger sites have in-house occupational health professionals whereas other sites use third-party healthcare service providers.

A number of our employees are required to undertake international travel. We have travel security services to give our travellers the best support.

We strive to continually improve our safety culture to ensure workers feel empowered to always remove themselves from perceived danger. Always acting promptly on near miss reporting and providing feedback to employees is a key part of this process.

Within our supply chain, health and safety forms a key element of our Supplier Code, Sustainable Tobacco Programme (STP) and our non-tobacco material (NTM) supplier qualification programme where we seek to promote management of good health and safety practices.


COVID-19 has had a profound impact on all our lives and sadly with tragic consequences for too many families. Our first priority is the health, safety and wellbeing of our 27,500 people around the world who are doing a tremendous job in dealing with the challenges posed by the pandemic.

We advocate flexible working and have encouraged our people to find a routine that works best for them and their families. We communicate regularly with employees and have initiated a number of surveys to check-in on their wellbeing. Feedback tells us that overall, employees continue to feel positive despite the challenging circumstances.

The personal support we give employees is focused on three key areas: mental, physical and social wellbeing.

Given cultural differences across our market footprint, our employee wellbeing support is managed locally and includes resilience training, employee assistance programmes, health checks and awareness programmes, flexible working, family-friendly policies and facilities and workplace celebrations and social events.

To support employee wellbeing, we also encourage volunteering as it is a positive way for our people to engage with local communities, broaden perspectives and support a work-life balance.


Our Group-wide Employment Policy is designed to ensure employees are professionally recruited, effectively rewarded and encouraged to develop both personally and professionally, to better support the objectives of the business. The aim of the policy is to attract, motivate, reward, develop and retain high calibre employees to deliver business success.

Learning and Development

We are committed to creating a culture where everyone is able to take control of their career development and access learning. During the year, we launched iLearn, a global learning platform of internal content, with links to a number of our partner organisations, including LinkedIn Learning and Harvard.

Initial uptake was encouraging, with close to 6,000 employees signed up to the system, completing an average of 3,677 items of learning content per month, up from 1,279 pre lockdown. This trend has continued with over 1,000 employees now accessing iLearn each month. Popular learning topics accessed by our people during this time were Microsoft Teams, Working Flexibly and Leading Virtually. At the end of the year, 5,933 employees had completed 30,900 hours of digital learning.

Teams of people set up collaboration groups to help promote and share more specialised content to aid their knowledge and to also maintain regular social contact.

In addition, more than 800 employees took part in 10 ‘lockdown learning’ live webinars and as restrictions eased, we organised online ‘bounce back’ sessions. Although we advised employees to continue working from home wherever possible, these sessions were aimed at encouraging our people to start thinking about returning to a ‘new normal’ work environment.

The variety of learning opportunities we are providing employees has been very well-received and was recognised as one of the top 10 most positive factors in our global engagement survey.

Talent and Leadership

Realising the potential of our most talented people is integral to our long-term success. Through our Talent Deal initiative, we provide select employees with targeted development solutions designed to accelerate their career progression. In return, we expect these employees to proactively seek opportunities to stretch themselves and, in turn, drive business performance.

Our Emerging Potential Programme is a good example of this: a six-month virtual programme developed in collaboration with Harvard to help junior colleagues make their first steps into global leadership roles.

This year, we launched our third cohort of the programme. Although completing the programme does not automatically guarantee immediate career progression, out of the more than 150 employees that have taken part, nearly half have gone on to secure a promotion or a significantly enhanced role.

We continue to invest in developing our global leadership population, ensuring all new leaders experience a consistent induction programme and are able to access a range of learning and development tools. This includes our Dare to Lead and Inspire to Lead flagship programmes of workshops, digital learning, on the job exercises and peer support.

Based on our Leadership Expectations, these programmes have been adapted to be delivered virtually so that leaders can continue to develop without the need to travel or be in the same physical offices. In total, 320 leaders across 12 markets participated in Dare to Lead and Inspire to Lead during the year.


At Imperial we talk a lot about winning in a challenging and uncertain world, and about the importance of delivering on our promises, both internally and externally. To make this happen we need a real performance focus – one where we all continuously look to improve our results, learn from experiences and strive for more.

One of the things that drives this is seeing performance management as a continuous cycle of conversations throughout the year. This helps us drive performance and communicate business priorities, so that we focus everyone’s efforts on the most important things.

Performance management provides a clear understanding of the role people play in achieving our strategy, what strengths they need to develop, or what they need to do differently.


Our reward structure focuses on three key areas:

  • Ensuring our ability to attract, retain and motivate people with the capabilities we need to deliver the business strategy;
  • Supporting a more flexible and agile organisation, better able to react quickly to seize new opportunities and to address issues; and
  • Further aligning actual rewards with the performance of the business and of the individual.

This structure provides a simple and consistent global framework within which markets and functions must operate. It also provides greater flexibility to localise or tailor reward to specific needs or priorities. The framework provides the basis for governance and equitable treatment of our employees globally, as well as supporting our ability to move talent across the organisation. This is in line with delivering our Employee Value Proposition of providing attractive reward that recognises the contribution our employees make.


We strongly believe that diversity across our organisation not only makes it a better place to work but also helps us realise our commercial strategy. We see diversity as everything that makes us unique; inclusion supports the mix of diverse teams; and belonging as the glue that binds and ensures diversity and inclusion is effective.

We are committed to treating employees with respect and support equal opportunities, as outlined in our Fairness at Work Policy. We want a culture that is vibrant and where our people can be themselves at work. We promote diversity internally with awareness campaigns, career talks, unconscious bias training and diversity celebrations. The importance of diversity, equality and non-discrimination is highlighted in our Code of Conduct.

We are progressing and developing our Diversity and Inclusion strategy by engaging with the business to understand better the challenges we may face. For example, towards the end of 2020 we implemented our first Group-wide study to understand the inclusion challenges within the business and to highlight any gaps which need to be addressed. We will report on the findings from this study in 2021.  

We have a global Diversity and Inclusion network in place with champions to promote elements of diversity within their locations.

In 2020 we successfully completed a pilot for our reverse mentoring programme and have now launched the programme across the business. This programme allows experienced colleagues to be mentored by colleagues from different generations, backgrounds or experience. This creates a deeper understanding between employees, helping to build an inclusive culture where the contribution of each individual in its variety, is acknowledged and valued.

An Equality Impact Assessment of our suite of business policies was conducted during the year, relevant policies have been revised accordingly and are now fully compliant with current Equality legislation. A process is now in place to ensure that this assessment is conducted on an annual basis moving forwards.


Find out about careers opportunities that set us apart as an employer.


Our case studies showcase our progress against our sustainability strategy.


See the progress we’ve made against our key performance indicators during 2020.