Human rights

As an international player, the Deutsche Telekom Group assigns high priority to human rights compliance, especially since the ICT  sector is frequently criticized for deficiencies in its supply chain. That is why we have established comprehensive social standards at Deutsche Telekom and implement these using appropriate methods. We attach particular importance to granting the right to collective agreements and supporting diversity and equal opportunities. We expressly require our suppliers to also assume responsibility as a way of making sure human rights are also protected outside of our Group.

Deutsche Telekom has made an express commitment to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights published by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011. These principles require businesses to systematically identify the impact their operations have on human rights, and to prevent, neutralize or compensate these where necessary. In order to meet these requirements, we have developed an extensive program to implement the guiding principles and introduced an ongoing process comprised of several interconnected measures and tools as illustrated in the graphic below.

Human rights due diligence at Deutsche Telekom

We have incorporated this obligation to respect human rights in Deutsche Telekom's fundamental policies, our Guiding Principles, the Code of Conduct and the Social Charter. The Employee Relations Policy and our Diversity Policy also play a key role for the respect for human rights.

Tools for assessing the possible impact on human rights
During the reporting period we conducted our first extensive human rights impact assessment with stakeholder consultations at one of our international subsidiaries in order to assess our human rights activities and the possible impact on human rights within a country. We also continued the process launched in 2013 to integrate human rights issues into the typical company valuations conducted in the context of mergers and acquisitions. To implement our Group Policy on Employee Relations, we also conduct special assessment processes to assess employer-employee relationships.

Our Social Charter  is applicable at all Deutsche Telekom Group units worldwide. The Social Charter  is our way of implementing the recommendations contained in the UN Guiding Principles and we have expressly committed ourselves to respecting human rights throughout the Group and requiring our suppliers to do the same. During the 2013 revision, we created a central point of contact at Group level for human rights issues.

The Social Charter  comprises two tools that we use to assess compliance with our policies. Every year we draw up a central Social Performance Report with the participation of all 111 fully consolidated Deutsche Telekom subsidiaries. This report did not record any violations of our Social Charter  during the period from October 2013 to September 2014. We have also been offering a central point of contact for human rights issues since 2013. Eleven reports regarding human rights issues were submitted to it in 2014. One communication channel used for this purpose was a special e-mail address: humanrights@telekom.de. Others used our anonymous whistleblower system which allows them to submit their information anonymously. The information we received involved cases of discrimination and alleged violations of labor standards and the right to freedom of expression. After careful investigation, some of the reports did not prove to be justified. We introduced countermeasures in one case to remedy the situation. The information we receive is always treated as confidential and with respect.

Communicating the Social Charter 
We hosted different dialog events in 2014 to communicate the contents of our Social Charter  to our employees and suppliers. Through direct dialog with our contacts at our international subsidiaries, we discussed the results of the amendments we made to our Social Charter  and talked about current human rights topics.

We used our sixth Sustainable Procurement Dialogue Day on March 26, 2014, in Bonn to get our suppliers more involved in our human rights efforts. One of the three working groups at the event focused on Deutsche Telekom's human rights due diligence in its supply chain. You can find more information and details on the event in the section on Suppliers.

In 2014, we pursued a country-specific approach in assessing the impact of our business activities on human rights. With the help of a specialized consulting firm, we conducted a human rights impact assessment at a T-Systems subsidiary. The assessment featured various stakeholder consultations including dialog with suppliers and a government representative as well as interviews with rights-holders. The impact assessment is based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and assesses at a national level the impact of business activities on human rights within and outside of the Group. The objective is to pinpoint the opportunities and risks involved in our business activities, identify people potentially affected by these, develop measures and introduce an ongoing improvement process.

Additional information on the impact assessment here.

We offered targeted training and conducted campaigns to raise awareness during the reporting period to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Human rights webinars were held for Human Resources, Risk Assessment and Procurement units to focus on their specific issues. We also engaged in dialog at different units, including Data Privacy, to raise awareness for these issues and asked those responsible to rate their own performance in terms of human rights.

The implementation of the UN Guiding Principles also requires us to assume responsibility for the supply chain. That is why we created training materials on our Social Charter  and the human rights principles it entails and integrated these materials as a module in our e-learning tool for suppliers in Germany during the reporting period.

Deutsche Telekom has been participating in the German Global Compact  Network's business and human rights peer learning group to analyze and improve related management skills since 2013. Members keep each other up-to-date regarding the latest developments and design measures for engaging in human rights due diligence. In 2014 we collaborated on the creation of training materials and conducted case studies on human rights violations. We also shared ideas and experiences with the UN working group on business and human rights.

In addition to the peer learning group, we also participate in other working groups that address the topic of human rights. Platforms include the ecosense Forum for Sustainable Development of German Business, which is hosted by Deutsche Wirtschaft e.V., the Global eSustainability Initiative (GeSI ) a working group run by the Global Industrial Relations Network, and the Joint Audit  Cooperation (JAC).