Our approach to protecting human rights

Our contribution to the SDGs

Deutsche Telekom has made an explicit commitment to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights published by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011. These guiding principles require that we systematically identify the impact our operations have on human rights; prevent and mitigate adverse impacts; and make restitution as necessary. In order to meet these requirements, we have developed an extensive program for the entire Group: We implement the UN Guiding Principles in an ongoing process that includes several interconnected measures and tools (see diagram).

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Mission statement on human rights

In several basic policies, Deutsche Telekom commits itself to respecting human rights, individual rights, and freedom of opinion – and to safeguarding the right to conclude collective agreements and to guaranteeing diversity and equal opportunity:

Addressing complaints about possible human-rights violations

We receive complaints about possible human-rights violations via the anonymous whistleblower portal “Tell me!” and our Contact Point for Human Rights, which has been in place since 2013. The Contact Point can be reached via the public email address humanrights@telekom.de. A complete overview of contact options can also be found on the “Tell me!” portal. We look into all tip-offs and reports received and introduce countermeasures as soon as the information is identified as plausible. Here we report on how we handled the reports we received in 2021. In addition, since 2013 we have also taken account of human rights aspects in due diligence activities conducted in the context of mergers and acquisitions.

Human-rights risk and impact analysis

To review the potential impact of our business activities on human rights, we prepare a central Human Rights & Social Performance Report every year. In 2021, all 111 of the national companies  surveyed declared in this report that they comply with the principles of the “Code of Human Rights & Social Principles.” We additionally included five joint ventures in the survey for 2021. The report indicated no violations for 2021. 

Human rights and employee relations at our national companies

As necessary, we carry out special auditing processes to assess employer-employee relations at our national companies. This is how we monitor implementation of the Group’s Employee Relations Policy. In this context, we also take into account the results provided by our Human Rights & Employee Relations Cockpit.
We use the Cockpit to measure progress at our national companies on the basis of five indicators pertaining to human rights:

  • Employee satisfaction (source: semi-annual pulse survey)
  • Willingness to recommend Deutsche Telekom as an employer (source: semi-annual pulse survey)
  • Health rate (source: Health, Safety, Environment (HSE) cockpit)
  • Number of employees giving notice (source: HSE cockpit)
  • Country-specific human rights risks (according to the “Human Rights Risk Index” of Maplecroft)

Based on each indicator, we classify the respective national company according to a traffic light system. The results are then discussed with the regional managers of the respective national company; if necessary, measures are agreed – such as “Human Rights Impact Assessments“ (procedures that assess the actual and potential impact of corporate actions on human rights) or “Employee Relations Policy Reviews” (reviews of compliance with the Group Policy on employer-employee relations).

Controlling the effectiveness of efforts to ensure compliance with human rights in the supply chain

In order to ensure that human rights are also protected within our sphere of influence outside of our Group, we expressly require our suppliers to assume responsibility in this context. To this end, we supplemented our sustainable procurement strategy with supplier management, to improve sustainability performance in our supply chain and ensure respect for human rights. This has included the carrying out of audits of our suppliers. Detailed results of our Group-wide auditing program are available here.

Raising awareness, training, stakeholder engagement, and networks

To ensure that human rights are safeguarded in accordance with our Guiding Principles and our Code of Human Rights, we offer all employees, worldwide, suitable online training courses. These courses cover topics such as sexual harassment, freedom of speech, and “Corporate Digital Responsibility.” We also use internal communication campaigns to provide information on important aspects of human rights, such as the aspect of anti-discrimination.

We are also involved in numerous networks such as the Global Compact and econsense. Together with other companies, policymakers, and civil society, we can draw attention to existing grievances and press ahead with solutions.


In 2021, we intensified our public communication about our activities.

Reporting against standards

 

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

  • GRI 412-1 (Human Rights Assessment)

 

Code of Human Rights & Social Principles

At Deutsche Telekom, protection for human rights is firmly and formally established. In 2017, we revised our Social Charter img, and developed it into the foundational declaration “Code of Human Rights & Social Principles”. The Code was adopted by our Board of Management in the same year. This update underscores our commitment to the aims set forth in the Federal Government's 2016 National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.

With the Code, we also underscore our commitment to

  • the International Labour Organization’s (ILO’s) Tripartite declaration of principles concerning multinational enterprises and social policy (MNE Declaration),
  • the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD img),
  • the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
  • the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the United Nations Global Compact, and
  • the UN Code of Conduct against LGBTQI+ discrimination, for companies.

In our Business Principles, our Supplier Code of Conduct, our Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence and our “New Work” manifesto, we also express these commitments, within the framework of our Code of Human Rights & Social Principles. We also welcome Germany’s new Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz).

Reporting against standards

 

Global Compact

  • Principle 1 (Support and respect for internationally proclaimed human rights)

Reports and inquiries regarding human rights

Between January 1 and December 31, 2021, we received a total of seven reports related to human rights, through our Contact Point for Human Rights and our “Tell me!” whistleblower portal.

  • The inquiries and tip-offs related to topics such as sexual harassment, bullying, and leadership conduct.
  • We also received several inquiries related to fundraising and support, which we forwarded to the appropriate departments.
  • Of course, all reports were treated as confidential.
Reporting against standards

 

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

  • GRI 406-1 (Non-discrimination)

Human Rights and Social Performance Report KPI

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 and has anchored these principles in its Code of Human Rights & Social Principles.

Social Performance Report
To review possible impacts on human rights, we have operated a central Contact Point for Human Rights since 2013, and we prepare a Social Performance Report each year. In 2021 all 111 fully consolidated companies of Deutsche Telekom state whether they comply with the principles of the Code of Human Rights & Social Principles. We additionally included five joint ventures in the survey for 2021. The report again shows no violations of our Social Charter img for January to December 2021.
 

Whistleblower Portal
Whistleblower portal “Tell me!”: 7 tip-offs relating to human rights issues in 2021.

Assessments & Review

  • A “Human Rights Impact Assessment” in 2020 (Identification of further Group-wide challenges in the area of human rights, which necessitate adjustments to individual policies and communication measures. For example, in 2021 we set up a human rights working group and carried out a more in-depth review of the procurement process.): DT Group
  • An “Employee Relations Policy” review in 2021: OTE in Greece

The Human Rights & Employee Relations Policy Cockpit is also used to measure impacts on human rights. To this end, the national companies collect data related to five human rights indicators and evaluate them according to a traffic light system.

  Data assured by PwC. 

Reporting against standards

 

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

  • GRI 406-1 (Non-discrimination)
  • GRI 412-1 (Human Rights Assessment)

German Sustainability Code

  • Criterion 17 (Human Rights)

Global Compact

  • Principle 1 (Support and respect for internationally proclaimed human rights)
  • Principle 2 (No complicity in human rights abuses)

European Federation of Financial Analysts Societies (EFFAS)

  • S07-02 (Percentage of total facilities certificated according to SA 8000 standard)
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