Vision

"Secure networks for sustainable development"

Thomas Kremer, Member of the Board of Management for Data Privacy, Legal Affairs and Compliance, acted as interim Board Member for Human Resources to during the reporting period. Consequently, Mr. Kremer was also in charge of corporate responsibility at the company. In an interview, Mr. Kremer talks about the challenges that Deutsche Telekom faces in this area and gives an outlook regarding the Group's future sustainability activities.

Thomas Kremer, Member of the Board of Management for Data Privacy, Legal Affairs and Compliance

 

Mr. Kremer, telecommunications products and services play an increasingly vital role in our everyday activities. Is Deutsche Telekom really able to make these more sustainable?

Definitely. Take climate protection, for example. Telecommunications helps us reduce greenhouse gas emissions every day. Smart meters and smart home solutions, for example, make our homes more comfortable, secure and energy efficient. We also help companies significantly reduce their carbon footprint by outsourcing their data to the cloud. We even help reduce CO2 emissions in the agricultural sector with intelligent networking.

But the environment is not our only concern. To us, intelligent networking means that data can be accessed quickly and reliably at any time. Our security standards here are higher than ever before. This is especially true for healthcare services. Our society is faced with the challenge of providing universal healthcare to an aging population. Our products can make a significant contribution to patients' wellbeing and support doctors and clinics at the same time. In 2014, for example, we collaborated with the Dresden University Hospital to develop an IT platform for healthcare services. The platform has set the bar throughout Europe. Protecting personal information from unauthorized access is naturally very important as well.

But our responsibility goes beyond providing our customers with sustainable products and services. We have set high social and environmental standards for our own company and expect our suppliers to comply with these standards as well. We reviewed compliance with these standards at 72 percent of our suppliers in 2014, based on procurement volume. We help our suppliers guarantee environmental standards throughout their own supply chain.

 

Only people who have the right skills and access to technology can benefit from the advantages of digital services. However, not everyone has the same opportunities to use these services. Is there a risk that digitization could lead to the exclusion of parts of our communities?

Yes, there is a risk. But we cannot let that happen. For that reason, Deutsche Telekom is working to provide fast, secure networks for everyone and is investing massively in this technology. But that is not enough. Close collaboration between politics and business is key here, too. That is why we have entered into more than 5,000 cooperation agreements for broadband expansion with a host of communities.

Use of our Internet portals and services offers many possibilities but hides dangers as well. That is why I feel it is important to teach children and young people how to navigate the web safely. Instant messaging, social networks and chat rooms are all a part of our children's everyday lives. As a father, I see it every day at home. Students need to be made aware of the risks and consequences of providing personal information at an early age. Our Teachtoday platform helps teachers, parents and children learn and teach media skills.

 

Media skills alone are not enough to protect people from online dangers. As a provider, how do you guarantee Internet security?

We have been a leader in data privacy and security in our industry for some time now. Although we will never be able to guarantee total security in the race against cyber crime, protecting customer data from unauthorized access is our top priority. We launched our Mobile Encryption App  to the market in 2014. The app provides our business customers with a global encryption solution of the highest quality that can be used worldwide. We have considerably strengthened our team at our central Cyber Defense Center and, in collaboration with the German Chamber of  Industry and Commerce, created a certified training offer for becoming a cyber security professional. Our efforts were recognized by the European Trusted Brands 2014 study. The study found that Deutsche Telekom is Germany's most reliable brand.

In addition to various individual solutions it is also important to guarantee at a political level people's right to determine for themselves what happens to their data. Just look at the espionage scandals over the past few years. For that reason, we are committed to translating our high standards into law in Europe and advancing these standards with technological progress. This is the only way to strengthen people's trust in the digital world.

 

Last year you acted as interim Board Member for Human Resources in addition to your Data Privacy responsibilities. How do you get employees involved in the company's commitment to sustainability and how do you define sustainable human resources management?

The only way a company can be successful is hand-in-hand with its employees. The same goes for sustainability. For me, it starts with training and study programs. We are currently one of the major companies offering training programs in Germany with almost 9,000 apprentices and students on cooperative study programs.
Our "Responsibility wins" competition has been encouraging trainees to get involved in their communities and for the environment since 2009. We also encourage all of our employees to volunteer with events such as our Social Days, days on which we give our employees the chance to volunteer in community projects or activities to protect the environment. We also support initiatives in which our employees are active with donations. Volunteering is very beneficial when it comes to internal HR development. It strengthens identification with the company as well as social skills.

Those are only a few examples.

Sustainable human resources management is much more. Diversity is a key word you hear time and again. Everyone should have the opportunity to get involved in working life in line with their interests and skills, regardless of gender or age. That includes companies creating a framework that enables work-life balance in all phases of life. Fair pay, performance-based assessment, lifelong learning, modern work models and, of course, preventive healthcare are all part of this. We spend more than 400 million euros a year on training and development alone. However, it is also important to provide tools for socially acceptable staff restructuring so that we can effectively master changes, particularly when it comes to our employees. Good relationships based on trust between employer and labor representatives are key here.

 

What is Deutsche Telekom's long-term approach in terms of sustainability?

As Europe's leading telecommunications provider, we intend to assume a leading role when it comes to sustainability. For that reason we will push ahead with our activities in this area both within and outside of our company. We work together intensively with our suppliers throughout our supply chain to establish social and environmental standards in emerging markets as well. In view of the intricate structures in place in the information and telecommunications sector, that poses a real challenge, but we are on a good road.

We have set an ambitious but realistic goal with our climate protection strategy. We intend to reduce total CO2 emissions at our Group (not including T-Mobile US) by 20 percent by 2020 compared to 2008. With data volumes growing, it is not that easy.  We will continue reducing our energy consumption through targeted efforts to increase the efficiency of our network infrastructure. Reducing energy consumption in facility management and our vehicle fleet remains a focal point of our efforts as well. We discuss other specific progress in this area in this report. 

I am positive that positioning Deutsche Telekom as a sustainable company holds tremendous opportunity. As I mentioned at the start of our interview, we provide solutions to many challenges our society is faced with. It will be up to us in coming years to continue to advance these solutions. In doing so, we will secure the success of our business and position Deutsche Telekom as an innovative company ready to take on the future.