It’s something we hear all the time: A company’s most important asset is its people. As Bill Gates once said: “What would Microsoft be worth if it was sold without its collaborators? One dollar?” A lot of people agree, though there is also a spirited debate around who is the most important to a business: customers or employees? Others go so far as to say that employees are actually a business’ most important customer.
Whichever point of view you ascribe to, I think most of us can agree that in today’s digital world, where almost everyone is able to have a voice — and does — it is a company’s people that set it apart in the marketplace. An organization’s authenticity derives from the people who work there. Do those employees live the values the company champions? And an even more important question, which often impacts the answer to the previous one: Do they feel valued by their employer?
We are working hard at PMI to make sure that the answer to both is a resounding “yes.” When the company began its journey of transformation, the changes swept through like a tidal wave, and there’s no one who didn’t feel it. I know firsthand how exhilarating - and sometimes, I admit, a little challenging - it is to work at a company that is undergoing such dramatic change.
We - all 81,000 of us around the world - are living through something that is unprecedented in all history. There has never been such a dramatic paradigm shift at such a major organization. We are doing so much more than just evolving from a tobacco company to technology company (a truly major change in its own right), we’re becoming a retailer, with stores for our smoke-free products and all the customer-facing tasks that come with them. It is a bold and ambitious plan, yes - but we’re making great strides.
So it’s not surprising that we’re seeing an impact on the talent we are recruiting. For many years, it was challenging to attract people to join a tobacco company. But since 2016, people who would never have dreamed of working for a tobacco company in the past, now want to help us create a smoke-free future.
Investing in the right people is crucial to our future, and so we are doing just that. Not only in the recruitment of new talent, but also in the up-skilling of the talented people we already have. The focus we’ve placed on sustainability for the past several years includes major components to improve the lives and working conditions of people throughout our supply chain, as well as initiatives to build better gender balance in our workforce, ensure equal pay for equal work and promote women in parity with men from our ranks.
Though we call it the company’s transformation journey, we need to be clear: Companies don’t transform themselves; it’s their people who transform them. Our success largely depends on the extraordinary men and women who come to work every day with a passion to achieve and a willingness to learn, grow and take on new challenges.