Our approach to social responsibility

In focus: Building digital inclusion
As the digital society takes shape, we at Deutsche Telekom are working hard to ensure that all can #TAKEPART. That’s why, as part of our social commitment, we are working on enabling digital inclusion.

The internet offers a wealth of opportunities for education, work, networking, and cultural life. In an equitable society, everyone – regardless of their age, disability, education, income, or place of residence – has access to the technology necessary for accessing the internet, and to the digital opportunities available online. When people do not take part in the online world, that should happen solely as the result of free choice – and not of a lack of financial means or requisite know-how.

In our perspective, three crucial factors decide whether people can participate in the digital society on an equal-opportunity basis: access to fast networks (“access”), affordable rates and devices that enable all people to participate, regardless of their financial situation (“affordability”), and the ability and motivation to use digital media competently (“ability”).

  • Access: We are continuously expanding our network with a view to enabling access. In the process, we cooperate with various partners – especially in more-remote areas. Also, we are pressing ahead with the development of equipment and products for various demographics. The “nora Notruf-App” (nora emergency-call app), for example, which offers one-tap emergency calling – and is intended especially for people with hearing and speech impairments – is based on a patent of Deutsche Telekom.
  • Affordability: Our range of rate plans includes plans for just about any budget. We also offer a subsidized rate (only available in German), and reduced basic charges – for schools, for example. With this approach, we strive to make digital accesses affordable for everyone.
  • Ability / Competent use of digital media: We support people in using media in a competent, responsible, and critical manner, and in living together in society in keeping with basic democratic values. Our campaign “#TAKEPART – No hate speech,” which has been underway since 2020, serves as a good example in this regard.

In the spirit of our #TAKEPART promise, we not only stand for access to the internet, but are also committed to diversity, tolerance, and joy in interpersonal interaction. This is because, from our perspective, a person's digital inclusion depends both on their ability to use digital media competently and on their willingness to behave responsibly online. This orientation highlights the ways our social commitment and our core business are closely interrelated. And it allows us to put our expertise as a telecommunications provider to the best possible use for the benefit of society. Our commitment to fair and equitable digital inclusion also plays an important role in our position as an attractive employer.

Our commitment to sustainable economic activity is explicitly enshrined in our Group strategy, in our exhortation “Act responsibly.” This commitment includes facilitating digital inclusion, promoting a willingness to change in positive ways, and complying with our climate targets.

Voluntary commitment, financial support and international connectedness
As part of our social commitment, we carry out projects and initiatives of our own. In addition, we promote voluntary commitment on the part of our employees. For example, we provide financial support for associations in which our employees are active. We also give them time off for volunteer work, such as the work many of them contributed in summer 2021, in the German areas hit by disastrous floods.

In addition, we provide financial support – for example, via donations to, and collaborative efforts with, non-profit organizations that work to promote more-harmonious coexistence and combat exclusion.
Also, we collaborate closely in this regard, and across national borders, with the national companies, and share experience and best practices in the process. In many cases, we invite our national companies to regionally implement, under their own responsibility, initiatives that we launch centrally.

Close cooperation with social players such as NGOs, associations, and initiatives also plays an important role. The reasons why we place priority on such interaction, across organizational and national boundaries, include the opportunities that it provides for mutual impetus and for the development of new ideas.

Measuring our success
We measure the impact of our social commitment on a Group-wide basis, with a set of ESG img KPIs. Until 2020, these KPIs were focused especially on media literacy, which is one aspect of digital inclusion. In 2021, then, we enshrined all aspects of digital inclusion – which is a central aim of our CR and company strategy – in our KPIs:

  • The ESG KPI “Community Contribution” reflects our social commitment in terms of financial, human, and material resources.
  • The ESG KPI “Beneficiaries – Focus topics” shows the number of people who have benefited from our commitment to digital inclusion and to a society that protects the climate and conserves resources.
  • The ESGI KPI “Reach” ESG KPI shows the number of people and media contacts that we reach with our communication about digital inclusion and about a society that protects the climate and conserves resources.

Our measures are also based on the Sustainable Development Goals img (SDGs) of the United Nations. In an overview, we list the activities with which we are working on behalf of the SDGs.

Promoting media literacy and democratic competence

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us just how important the internet has become in our everyday lives. For many people, in fact, the network has served as the sole means of communicating with family and friends during lockdowns. The internet has also provided a way to work, take classes and go to school, and shop – from home. But online communication has its down sides. In uncertain times, fake news and conspiracy theories spread even more widely and rapidly, and more and more people find themselves facing hate speech and marginalization.

For us, media literacy is the key to safe and competent use of digital media. But media literacy alone cannot ensure that people interact harmoniously, and treat each other with respect, in the digital world. For this reason, we believe that media literacy has to go hand-in-hand with democratic competence. We therefore work, through a wide range of projects and initiatives, to promote trust and informed formation of opinion, and to combat marginalization and hate speech, in cyberspace.

Our Teachtoday initiative supports children, young people, parents and grandparents, and educational staff by providing hands-on tips and materials about safe, proficient media usage. The materials are available at www.teachtoday.de in seven languages (German, English, Croatian, Montenegrin, Polish, Romanian, and Hungarian). In the year under review, the topic “Gaming – where the fun stops” was a focus of our campaign #TAKEPART – No hate speech. In keeping with that emphasis, we are also highlighting the issue of gaming in outreaches to our Teachtoday target audience.

Digital learning plays a particularly important role now that digital schooling and remote learning have become an even bigger part of students' day-to-day lives. Teachtoday offers a digital tool box that we published in 2020 and have continually expanded since then. In 2021, in the framework of our “Gaming – where the fun stops” initiative, we added topic-specific workshops and other offerings to the tool box. The tool box, which now comprises over 120 different formats, including product ideas, video tutorials, and fascinating quizzes, is designed for adults who have contact – either in schools, in learning groups or in their own private lives – with children and young people between the ages of 9 and 16.

Teachtoday also has its own YouTube channel, on which it presents short, catchy videos about safe, proficient internet use, along with complete workshops on subjects such as how to use the tool box.

SCROLLER”, an online magazine for children aged nine to twelve, teaches media literacy using age-appropriate language. With its new, interactive web format, the magazine has a completely up-to-date look and feel, and it is suitable, as a learning and reading tool, both for solitary use and for group exercises. Via the additional SCROLLER EDU+ area, which links directly with the magazine's features, teachers can access background information and learning resources for classroom and online instruction. In keeping with our focus topic “Gaming – where the fun stops”, our messaging to our “SCROLLER” audience in the year under review also concentrated on the subject of gaming. The content, aimed at children from the ages of nine to twelve, was presented under the heading, “Here's how to keep the fun in gaming” (“So bleibt es beim Spielspaß”).

In 2020, the children's media magazine SCROLLER, which has already received the “Stiftung Lesen Siegel” (seal of the Stiftung Lesen reading-promotion foundation) and the “German Design Award,” and Teachtoday were awarded the “Comenius Medal,” the most important European award for digital educational media.

#TAKEPART stories
Our #TAKEPART stories initiative highlights socially relevant aspects of digitalization, from a practical perspective, and transforms them into modules that multipliers can use in workshops. The stories/modules are aimed at adults of all ages, from young adult to senior. The initiative highlights ways to use the internet responsibly, and it encourages critical discussion about this subject.

A special feature of the initiative is that the multipliers who use it do not have to be experts on the subjects concerned; we provide presentation resources for all workshops, along with moderators' guides and background information. As a result, the workshops are easy to carry out. Consequently, the initiative supports our aim of ensuring that everyone can #TAKEPART and participate in the opportunities that digitalization provides. The content is developed in didactic formats, implemented in innovative modules. The modules are available in German, English, and simplified language, and are tailored to various workshop durations.

The #TAKEPART stories include various modules on the focus topics gaming and civil courage, along with modules on other digital-world topics, such as digital friendships, life in the city of the future, and data protection and privacy.

Promoting digital competence
As part of EU Code Week (only available in German), and in cooperation with Apple, we invite teenagers and teachers to immerse themselves in the world of app development. In workshops and interactive events, participants learn how to develop and implement app ideas. Code Week, which is supported by the European Commission, took place from Oct. 9 to Oct. 24, 2021, for the ninth time overall.

We cooperate with various universities, with a view to supporting current research and promoting digital skills. For example, via Telekom Laboratories (T-Labs img), we finance several endowed chairs, at TU Berlin, oriented to teaching of digital topics. Also, at the CODE University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, we have established a professorship for software engineering (with a focus on blockchain technology).

”Startupnight” is one of the largest annual events in Europe at which startups can network and present their ideas and business models to companies, investors, and potential customers. The event, an initiative of Deutsche Telekom, is promoted primarily by hubraum, Deutsche Telekom's technology incubator. hubraum also offers its ”on air” live-streamed online discussions. Each month in “on air,” we converse with industry experts, startups and investors about an innovative, technology-oriented topic. In the framework of our TechBoost program, we support startups (especially in connection with financing issues), offer expert know-how and provide access to our technical resources and customers.

In our Group-wide “DIGITAL@School” initiative, we support children engaged in active, self-reliant efforts to help shape the digital age. Some 500 “DIGITAL@School” volunteers are giving their time to schools, and other educational institutions, in a range of in-person and online assistance formats. With age-appropriate approaches, they are helping to inspire children to take an interest in STEM img (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects and in programming languages. In addition, they are teaching skills that children need in order to use digital media responsibly. At the end of 2021, the initiative received the #GoodMagenta label for its work. The initiative was launched in 2017 as ”IT@School.” It then grew throughout the Group, and was renamed ”DIGITAL@School“ at the end of 2021.

Seniors with good online skills
As part of our efforts to ensure that everyone can #TAKEPART, regardless of their age, we offer special equipment and products for seniors. The resources available for facilitating seniors' use of digital technologies include big keyboards, uncluttered displays, with large fonts and icons, and emergency-call buttons. In addition, we are working, in cooperation with the German National Association of Senior Citizens' Organisations (BAGSO), to promote seniors' media literacy. In 2021, we again sponsored, as a partner, the Goldener Internetpreis (Golden Internet Prize; only available in German). The prize is awarded to committed individuals, initiatives, and municipalities that are working to inspire seniors to go online – and to assist them in doing so. Also in the year under review, we sponsored a special prize, in the framework of the Golden Internet Prize, entitled “With respect – working for fairness online!” (“Respektvoll – aktiv für einen fairen Umgang im Netz!”; only available in German). The prizewinners were honored at the German Senior Citizens' Day event, which took place online because of the pandemic.

In another effort in this context, we are serving on the advisory board of Digital-Kompass (only available in German), a joint project of BAGSO and the association DsiN (Deutschland sicher im Netz e.V. – “Germany secure online”). Digital-Kompass provides resources and digital “round table” meeting formats for “internet pilots” who help seniors navigate the online world.

In cooperation with the German Senior Citizens League (DSL img), we have produced a guide entitled “Digital inclusion – age is not an issue” (“Digital dabei sein – Keine Frage des Alters”; only available in German). In clear, straightforward language, the brochure covers a range of relevant topics, such as “How to set up a fast, secure internet / Wi-Fi access,” “What rates are available?” and “How can I ensure that my data is safe?” The guide also explains where one can find support – including learning resources, and pertinent services – and it provides tips on how to use digital media.

Annette Reuter

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Working against online hate speech

In 2021, we continued our campaign #TAKEPART – No hate speech, which we launched in summer 2020. Our goal with the campaign is to send a signal and promote an internet in which everyone can enjoy the vast opportunities of the digital world without having to fear marginalization or hate speech. In addition, we support initiatives that work to combat marginalization. At present, we are cooperating with a total of 44 initiatives and NGOs that are working in support of our aim of strengthening democracy, peaceful coexistence, and diversity. Also, with our own measures aimed at online civil courage, we call on society to support us in this commitment.

In 2020, we founded an internal network with the aim of making our aspiration “we have no room for marginalization and racism” come alive within our company. In it, representatives of various areas, such as “internal communications,” “threat management,” “compliance,” and “human rights,” are working together to ensure that preventive measures are implemented, and that potential incidents in the company are taken seriously and transparently scrutinized. In addition, we ensure that persons affected by marginalization are quickly and beneficially assisted.

We also carried out various workshops for our employees on the subject of “online hate speech” – including workshops for apprentices and dual students. In keeping with pandemic-related restrictions, the latter workshops were carried out online. School students taking part in the digital internships that we introduced in 2021, as the only company to do so, were also invited to take part in our workshops. These addressed the topics of digital democracy, civil courage, and racism.

No hate speech in gaming
In the year under review, our campaign #TAKEPART – No hate speech focused on the topic “Gaming – where the fun stops”. In the process, we sought to answer the following questions:

  • What is already being done to promote democratic, fair, and collaboratively oriented rules in gaming – and what can we all individually do in this regard?
  • How do civil courage and constructive dialog work on the internet and on gaming platforms?
  • How can diversity be promoted in gaming, without prejudice and discrimination?

Also, we worked in cooperation with the esports player foundation to prepare relevant didactic resources for various age groups. With our specially targeted resources and messaging, we encourage parents, educational staff, and gamers to take a stand on this issue.

Together with the esports organization SK Gaming and the esports player foundation, we have launched the initiative #equalesports to promote greater diversity in esports and gaming. The goal is to support women who are participating in professional and popular sports. The three-day Equal eSports Festival, which took place in the fall of 2021 at our representative office in Berlin, addressed the topics of diversity, esports, and gaming. For the festival, we organized various events, including workshops for parents and panel discussions.

In addition, we emphasized the need for communication about, and promoted the introduction of, counter speech elements in gaming – for example, elements such as critical and humorous images and videos, in formats such as memes and GIFs. In cooperation with the esports player foundation, we have developed a selection of suitable memes and GIFs with which gamers can quickly and easily take a stand, in chats and social networks, against hate speech in gaming. In another campaign, top esports athletes have spoken out, in videos on social media, against digital discrimination and toxic behavior in gaming.

Digital crime – When words become weapons
In 2021, in an effort to reach relevant new target audiences, we published the six-part podcast series “Digital crime – When words become weapons” (Digital Crime – Wenn Worte zur Waffe werden“) on all leading podcast channels. In each episode, we hear from a person who has experienced hate speech online and describes what that was like. Also, experts put the cases in proper perspective, and – as is customary in true crime podcasts – discuss the legal issues the cases raise. In the first episode, we hear from Jay (who also stars in our spot for the campaign #TAKEPART – No hate speech) about sexual self-determination and hate speech. Other episodes focus on topics such as hate speech in local politics, hate speech in gaming and hate speech against women. And the episode “When customers become haters” (“Wenn Kunden zum Hater werden”) discusses this issue in the context of our own customer service.

Since the beginning of the campaign #TAKEPART – No hate speech, in the second quarter of 2020, we have generated 720 million media contacts, and reached about 3.85 million people – either directly or via multipliers (for example, in workshops).

Digitalization in schools

For the past 20 years we have been offering free 16 Mbps broadband lines to all general and vocational schools in Germany as part of the “Telekom@School” initiative. As of fall 2021, more than 19 000 schools were making use of our offer. Also, more than 9 000 additional schools opted for a service, subsidized by us, that is subject to charges and provides higher bandwidth. In addition, we contacted around 17 000 schools in 2020 to improve their access to modern IT technologies. They can now easily increase their internet speed to up to 250 Mbit/s img by ordering an upgrade from ADSL img to VDSL img – which will be free of charge until August 2021. Around 16 percent of the contacted schools have accepted our offer for an upgrade. In the year under review, we further intensified our commitment to improving schools' internet access. As part of our efforts, we offered 100 schools a full year of our Digital School Service img (DSS), free of charge, to free them from having to manage their own technical support and related services.

Since 2020, school authorities may opt for a flat rate for education (only available in German), which provides pupils with an unlimited data allowance for educational content, for a low monthly fee. In addition, the plan, with funding from the German government's DigitalPakt initiative, facilitates provision of tablet computers and laptops to disadvantaged students. This gives children and young people the opportunity, irrespective of their family background, to learn how to use digital media. Our Group Representative for Education has central responsibility for our commitment to schools.

Since the beginning of 2021, and in cooperation with Microsoft, we have been using a digital education package (only available in German) to support schools in Germany in the area of IT-based and online education. The package includes laptops or tablet computers and special educational licenses for “Microsoft MS365” software. A team of Deutsche Telekom experts – specially certified by Microsoft – provides the requisite service and helps set up the devices. Schools can test the package free of charge and without obligation.

In the U.S., T-Mobile is also committed to connecting schools and students. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced more than 50 million American students to switch to online schooling. For this reason, the company's "Project 10Million" initiative, which was launched in 2020, was continued in the year under review. Hundreds of U.S. school districts were able to get students connected with their schools for free thanks to the initiative. In 2021, T-Mobile US worked with school districts, extracurricular programs, and local authorities to offer affordable internet access to more than 1.2 million students nationwide.

In the year under review, other national companies, such as those in the Netherlands and in Slovakia, continued their efforts on behalf of school students' digital inclusion. To help support online instruction, they donated IT equipment to schools, for example. Further information about Deutsche Telekom's international commitment in this area is available in the Profiles of the national companies.

Deutsche Telekom Stiftung’s commitment

The educational foundation Deutsche Telekom Stiftung is working, via numerous programs and projects, to help improve education in STEM img subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). It supports children and adolescents, between the ages of 10 and 16, in self-managed learning, both in school and elsewhere, that helps them acquire key educational and life skills. Along with STEM-related skills, the skills in question include critical thinking, good judgement and discernment, creativity, and communication and teamworking skills. The foundation provides such support out of the conviction that a modern education system must give young people the best possible preparation for meeting global challenges such as digital transformation, climate change, electromobility, and biodiversity.

ESG KPIs “Community Contribution,” “Beneficiaries – Focus topics” and “Reach” KPI

As part of our assessment of the impacts of our social commitment, we report a set of three ESG KPIs: “Community Contribution,” “Beneficiaries – Focus topics” and “Reach.” In using these KPIs, we rely on methods employed by the organization Business for Societal Impact (B4SI), which incorporate the aspects “input,” “output” and “impact.” In 2020, Deutsche Telekom’s KPIs were oriented especially to the topic of media literacy. In 2021, we then turned their main focus to digital inclusion – because that is a central aim of our CR and corporate strategy.

Community Contribution
The ESG KPI “Community Contribution” reflects activities in which Deutsche Telekom was involved in the community either financially, through its employees, or through donation of materials. The “input” (effort/commitment) was communicated from 2017 to 2020 under the name “Community Investment.” In 2021, the KPI was adjusted and the focus was sharpened.

Our ambition in this connection: Increase the KPI

In 2021, 88 percent of our engagement focused on “Digital Inclusion.” 12 percent paid in on other topics, such as “Low Carbon and Circular Society” or “Disaster Relief.”

In addition to the longer-term commitment to our focus topics “Digital Inclusion” and “Low Carbon and Circular Society” (social investments), we also contribute through charitable donations and social sponsorship (e.g., of cultural events).

To determine the overall commitment of our employees, we look at the number of hours our employees have put in under our Corporate Volunteering program. In 2021, we adjusted the calculation basis and, in addition to volunteer hours performed during working hours, also collect volunteer hours otherwise supported by the company (e.g., through premises, insurance, or donations). In 2021, we contributed 137 746 volunteer hours.

Also, efforts we make in the context of the Community Contribution ESG KPI contribute significantly toward achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2021, about 274 million euros of our Community Contributions contributed to digital inclusion and thus to the achievement of SDG 4 (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education).

Beneficiaries – Focus topics
The ESG KPI “Beneficiaries – Focus topics” shows the number of people who have benefited from our commitment to digital inclusion and to a society that protects the climate and conserves resources (this includes efforts such as providing media-literacy training, providing broadband accesses for schools, and supporting counseling hotlines). In 2021, our media literacy measures reached 28 million people. In contrast to the years 2017 to 2020, in the year under review only beneficiaries in the focus topics “Digital Inclusion” and “Low Carbon and Circular Society” were included. Besides direct beneficiaries, indirect beneficiaries are also taken into account according to a fixed key if, for example, a multiplier concept is involved or a discounted connection is used by several people.

Our ambition in this connection: Increase the KPI

The ESG KPI “Media Literacy” has no longer been collected since 2021 due to the restructuring of our KPI set for measuring the impact of social engagement.

The ESG KPI “Reach” shows the number of persons and media contacts that we have reached via our messaging on digital inclusion, and on societal efforts to protect the climate and conserve resources – and that thereby have become more aware of the issues involved and of our pertinent activities. As of the end of 2021, this KPI reached a value of 968 million people and media contacts.

Our ambition in this connection: Increase the KPI

An overview of our most important digital inclusion initiatives at the project level can be found here.

Our investments in network expansion are making an important contribution to facilitating broadband access for large sections of the public. On a Group-wide basis, our investments in our network infrastructure overall amounted to 18 billion euros in 2021 (of which about 4.1 billion euros were made in Germany). Also, we are already providing LTE service to 98 percent of the total population of the countries in which our national companies are active. What’s more, we operate the largest fiber-optic network in Germany, with more than 650 000 kilometers of cables, and are driving the expansion of a large-scale NB-IoT infrastructure for the cities of the future.

engagement@telekom KPI

Our contribution to the SDGs

Our range of corporate volunteering opportunities supports our employees' social commitment. Through their commitment, our employees play a major role in strengthening social cohesion, broadening their own horizons, and boosting their social skills. This in turn has a positive impact on teamwork at the company.

Our “engagement@telekom” corporate citizenship program pursues three aims – to support our employees’ current commitment, to provide impetus for new commitment, and to provide space for networking. To that end, we give our employees opportunities to volunteer. For example, numerous Social Days provide an opportunity to get involved on behalf of society. In 2021, our employees contributed over 137 000 volunteer hours.

Projects that promote media literacy are one focus of “engagement@telekom.” With such projects, our employees help people better understand digital phenomena, thus laying the groundwork for participation in the digital world. One example is the Group-wide initiative “DIGITAL@School” (known as “IT@School” until the end of 2021). Using age-appropriate strategies and language, the committed employees in that initiative help children in schools and other educational institutions become acquainted with STEM img (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects, and they carry out workshops on programming. In addition, they teach skills that children need in order to use digital media responsibly.

Environmental issues also play an important role in the framework of “engagement@telekom.” As part of our commitment in this area, employees active in our Green Pioneers Initiative have initiated efforts to help reduce our carbon footprint. These efforts contribute to our Group efforts in the area of sustainability. In addition, Deutsche Telekom employees again volunteered their time for the annual fundraiser “Ein Herz für Kinder” (“A heart for children”) and for the SAT.1 TV channel's hotline for collecting donations for victims of the July floods in Germany.

Joint commitment with partners

We have taken on the task of driving forward the social discussion on digital responsibility. To do this, we participate in various alliances and partnerships, such as the “Corporate Digital Responsibility” initiative1 run by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. In April 2021, we signed the code of conduct of the initiative, thereby committing ourselves to upholding specific principles. Also, in 2022 we will publish our own “Corporate Digital Responsibility” framework.

We signed the Charter of digital networking (Charta der digitalen Vernetzung1) back in 2014. With our involvement in its sponsoring association, we are also underscoring our commitment to responsibility in shaping the digital society.

We have longstanding partnerships with many organizations, associations, and initiatives with whom we work as part of our social commitment. In the year under review, we again collaborated closely with many people and organizations, and launched joint activities with them, as part of our efforts to provide support during the coronavirus pandemic. In this connection, “Our space for your aid” initiative turned out to be the campaign with the widest reach. In it, we donated our own advertising slots on radio and TV to five partner organizations, including “W.a.d.E. – Wege aus der Einsamkeit1”, “Nummer gegen Kummer1” (youth counseling line) and “Labdoo1”. Also, in joint spots with them, we highlighted the organizations' pandemic-oriented charitable activities. With this campaign, we achieved about 200 million media contacts.

In cooperation with our longstanding partner, “Germany’s Relief Coalition”, we supported a fundraiser for the victims of the disastrous floods of 2021. In addition to donating 1 million euros ourselves, we also provided the technical infrastructure the fundraiser needed in order to receive pledges, and 2 000 of our employees volunteered their time to staff the fundraiser's hotlines.

Other partnerships in which we are involved include the following:

In addition to urging society to push back against online hate speech, our campaign #TAKEPART – No hate speech focuses strongly on providing support for those victimized by hate speech. We have entered into additional partnerships to this end. In our spot for the campaign ”Words must not become a weapon” – which has been seen by many millions of people – we present several of these partner organizations. And we present additional partners in our Topic special.

We promote various initiatives and programs aimed at protecting children and adolescents in cyberspace. For example, we are a member of the association fragFINN, which provides a safe online surfing environment for children between the ages of six and twelve. The search engine on fragFINN.de1and its pertinent browser app turn up only websites that are suitable for children and have been reviewed by media educators. Also, we support JusProg e.V.1, a non-profit association that works to improve protection for children and adolescents online. Its youth-protection program JusProg, which is available for download and use free of charge, filters out age-inappropriate online content.

1 Only available in German.

Financial commitment and sponsorships

In Germany, we are involved in the fields of sport, culture, and social issues. Our national companies are also engaged in these areas. In addition to providing funding, we help artists, athletes, event organizers, and associations with their communication and marketing activities. Our Sponsorship Policy provides the framework for sponsoring activities. Being involved in the regions where we are based is another important aspect. Examples of our involvement include:

  • Music sponsorship
  • Competitive sport sponsorship with partners such as the DFB (German Football Association), FC Bayern Munich, Telekom Baskets Bonn, and Deutsche Sporthilfe, DFB's Sepp Herberger Foundation, and the German National Paralympic Committee
  • Recreational sport sponsorship
  • Sponsorship of social activities associated with partnerships

Additional information on the sponsorship activities of Deutsche Telekom AG is available here.

Corporate giving
Through our corporate giving program, we support the work of aid organizations worldwide – preferably in the form of long-standing partnerships – and provide rapid assistance in disaster situations. Our Group Donation Policy lays out the guidelines for these activities.

Our contribution to containing the coronavirus pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how important digitalization is in meeting social challenges. Digitalization has made it possible for many people to switch to working from home; online shopping, and contactless payments, have been reducing the risk of infection; physicians have been offering online consultations; contact tracing apps have been helping contain the pandemic; digital proofs of vaccination have been opening doors – and people throughout the world have been communicating via video chat.

Containing the COVID-19 pandemic continued to be a priority for us. Even in times of crisis, we remain committed to keeping everyone connected. Our multi-billion investments in network infrastructure have paid off during the pandemic: Our networks are stable, and in 2021 we once again experienced no major outages. We also helped contain the pandemic with numerous other activities. Detailed information about our measures in Germany is also available in our COVID-19 Special.

Breaking chains of infection, with the Corona-Warn-App
Under commission to the German government, and in cooperation with SAP, we developed our contact tracing app, the Corona-Warn-App and, in 2021, upgraded it with additional service features. Since the previous year, the app has made it possible, throughout Europe, to trace chains of infection and break them more quickly than was previously possible. The contact tracing app is a useful digital complement to the COVID-19 behavioral guidelines. We continue to improve the app, on an ongoing basis. In the year under review, for example, functionality for the EU digital Covid certification of vaccination or recovery, and for a check-in feature – for visits to cafés, for example – was added. Comprehensive information features, such as features reporting on incidence rates, have also been included. As of the end of 2021, the app had been downloaded more than 39.5 million times.

The Enterprise Protection System (EPS), developed by T-Systems, is a smart means of preventing Covid lockdowns. It is suitable for production and logistics operations and for events. The system's innovative technology facilitates early contact tracing, thereby helping to break chains of infection. EPS makes use of smart wearables, such as armbands, that help wearers comply with social distancing requirements, in order to prevent infections. With visual and acoustic signals, the wearables warn their wearers (such as employees) whenever safety distances are not being complied with. Via data-privacy-conformal tracing of risky encounters, the system makes it possible to quickly identify contacts of infected persons, with a view to breaking the relevant chains of infection.  

Improving vaccination and verification processes with the help of digital solutions
With the help of smart systems, such as access-management systems and vaccination-capacity monitors, and suitable IT infrastructure, we have supported the establishment of vaccination centers in Germany and helped simplify vaccination processes – and thereby helped implement the country's national vaccination strategy.

Under Covid guidelines, for example, persons wishing to enter business facilities, hotels, events, etc. have to show proof of vaccination, recovery and/or testing. Since the end of 2021, T-Systems has offered a “Validation Service” that enables proprietors of restaurants etc. to check the various digital Covid certificates in use, quickly and with little overhead (staffing, logistics, etc.). We integrate the solution within our customers' IT systems, thereby making access processes user-friendly, secure and anonymized (GDPR compliant).

Making it easier for people to work from home
Millions of people in Germany continued to work from home in 2021. We offer our business customers secure solutions that enable their employees to work from home efficiently, and stay connected despite the distance. Our home office configurator helps small and medium-sized businesses, for example, to develop customized solutions for staff working from home. Likewise, our Digital Schutzpaket Business (digital business protection package) keeps sensitive customer data safe.

Working from home offers opportunities, and it presents special challenges. The Deutsche Telekom guide for homeworkers (Homeoffice Ratgeber der Telekom; only available in German) helps companies and their employees deal with the challenges. In short videos, our experts provide helpful tips and explain such things as how to manage and structure home working arrangements in effective, healthy ways.

Protecting employees
At Deutsche Telekom, we have introduced comprehensive regulations for working from home, detailed hygiene concepts, and other support measures, such as free rapid tests, to fulfill our responsibility as an employer. We have taken special precautions for our Telekom-Shop and field employees, who cannot work from home. In addition, in 2021 we offered many courses in our extensive health program online. And we continued “My Health Journey” – a mental health program launched in 2020. Since June 2020, the company's medical service (B.A.D.) has offered coronavirus vaccinations for employees and their family members. This campaign has taken place nationwide, at a total of 87 locations – of which 18 are solely Deutsche Telekom locations. A full 24 200 Deutsche Telekom employees made use of the company's internal vaccination service and received their COVID-19 shots from the company's in-house medical professionals. In December, 2 700 employees received their third vaccination, i.e. a booster shot. We continued to offer this vaccination service in the first quarter of 2022.

Promoting digitalization in schools, and facilitating remote learning
We are also working to promote digitalization in Germany's schools – via installation of fiber optic connections, and via a diverse portfolio of services. Our extensive range of media literacy offerings such as Teachtoday and SCROLLER provides informative content for students and parents.

Smooth operation of online instruction depends on more than just the availability of the right equipment. The equipment also has to be set up and operated properly. Since February 2021, in keeping with this insight, we have been providing 100 schools with a year's worth of free support service, under our “Digital School Service” campaign. The service includes immediate assistance, and user support in connection with apps, tools, and platforms for online instruction and home-schooling.

In addition, and in cooperation with Microsoft, since early 2021 we have been offering schools an extensive package that includes laptops, tablets, and licenses for “Microsoft MS365” software. It also includes service that facilitates trouble-free use of the packages in everyday online school instruction. Schools are invited to test the package, which is modularly structured, at no charge or obligation.

Free entertainment
To make the time people spend cooped up at home pass more quickly, we have expanded our range of free entertainment and cultural programs. On our MagentaMusik 360 streaming platform, for example, we presented numerous concerts and brought their music directly into people's homes. Most of the concerts we offer on the platform become available for streaming within just a few days after the relevant live event, and they stay available for up to twelve months.

Reliable partner during the crisis
We have also helped ease the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on society with a range of further activities. The measures in question have included providing additional data volume free of charge, and establishing a hotline to support nebenan.de, a neighborhood help portal, during lockdowns. In addition, we have donated one million euros to aid organizations that have provided a wide range of community assistance during the pandemic.

In the year under review, we used Digital X, a two-day trade fair on digitalization, as a means of supporting restaurants and hotels in Cologne that have been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, the trade fair, which operated in conformance with coronavirus guidelines, invited its guests not only into large event halls, but also into Cologne's restaurants, bars, and cafés. The event drew over 20 000 participants. At Digital X, 300 global companies presented their solutions for digital transformation and economic and social sustainability, with exhibits ranging from an autonomously driving city shuttle to a 3D scanner for the creation of avatars. Digital X received several international awards, including the Grand Prix and two gold awards, in the prestigious Best Event Awards World (BEA World) competition.

Starting at the end of April 2021, we carried out a campaign, entitled “Our space for your aid”, in which we made our advertising slots and spaces available, for one full week, to non-profit charitable organizations such as the “Nummer gegen Kummer” youth counseling line, Germany’s Relief Coalition, and “Labdoo,” in light of the fact that they provide aid and assistance that especially large numbers of people need during the pandemic. On and in a total of 1 000 advertising slots and spaces on TV and radio, online media, newspapers, and outdoor advertising, the organizations called attention to the charitable work they are performing during the pandemic. Our campaign was successful: Some 200 million media contacts were generated. What's more, this has had a direct impact on the organizations' work. The organization “Nummer gegen Kummer,” for example, experienced 15-percent growth in the volume of counseling provided via its hotlines, in comparison to the period prior to the start of the campaign. With a total of 550 IT-donation pledges, “Labdoo” can now provide digital education for up to 8 250 children. The effects were also noticeable for “Crew Nation”: In the days following the campaign, the number of funding applications it received from event-industry staff more than tripled. Also through the campaign, many seniors became aware of the educational programs of the association “Wege aus der Einsamkeit” (“Pathways for getting away from loneliness”) and now plan to take advantage of them. For Germany’ Relief Coalition, the campaign provided key support for the coalition's pandemic-related emergency-response measures.

Examples of international commitment
At T-Mobile US, the “Project 10Million” was especially important – since the COVID-19 pandemic forced more than 50 million American schoolchildren to switch to online learning. Hundreds of US school districts were able to get students connected with their schools for free thanks to the initiative. In 2021, T-Mobile worked with school districts, extracurricular programs, and local authorities to offer affordable internet access to 1.2 million students nationwide. In the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), the percentage of students with internet access was increased from 12 to 98 percent.

In 2021, T-Mobile in the Czech Republic continued its support for people disadvantaged as a result of the pandemic. A total of 500 families were given laptops, routers and free internet accesses. In addition, some 200 tablet computers were loaned to facilities for seniors. T-Mobile Czech Republic also supported the mentoring program “DoToho!,” which assists small and medium-sized companies affected by the pandemic. Along with the financial support, the national company in the Czech Republic also provided professional expertise, with T-Mobile employees serving as mentors and trainers at 124 companies, free of charge.

Hrvatski Telekom also continued its commitment in this area in 2021. It provided tablet computers and free internet access to an additional 16 nursing homes in Croatia. In the framework of the “Generation Together” program, seniors were familiarized with digital media, so that they could stay in contact with their families and friends during the pandemic. Also, Hrvatski Telekom in Croatia launched a joint project with Smart Sense, a technology developer. As a result, special monitors are now measuring indoor air quality, in real time, in three elementary schools and five kindergartens of the City of Dubrovnik. The devices measure CO2 concentrations, temperature, and humidity, and they are connected via NB-IoT img technology. When the air quality drops below certain thresholds, teachers promptly receive acoustic and light signals and can quickly air their rooms, to ensure that the learning environment for their pupils remains safe and healthy.

Slovak Telekom supported healthcare workers, teachers, and students by providing mobile data, technical equipment, and financial aid. Slovakia was hit hard by the pandemic especially in the first quarter of the year under review, and the impacts were felt especially in the country's hospitals. Slovak Telekom responded by providing six months' worth of unlimited data allowances for health-care-sector employees, who suffered especially high levels of stress in their “front-line” work during the pandemic. At the same time, the company carried out a campaign to call attention to the vitally important work and sacrifice provided by the health-care workers.

Many national companies continued to allow their employees to work from home, and continued to keep business travel at reduced levels, in order to keep their employees safe. Additional measures aimed at containing the COVID-19 pandemic are described in the profiles of the national companies.

Emergency response during disasters

Extreme heat waves, torrential rainfall and droughts – the sixth report of the  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that climate change is going to make events such as these more and more frequent. In 2021, in the countries in which we are represented, we supported regions affected by natural disasters.

Europe: Disastrous floods
In July 2021, heavy rainfall led to a severe natural disaster that especially affected Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Some 220 people throughout Europe died as a result. Areas in the German Länder (states) of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia were especially hard hit. Cities and villages suffered heavy damage, and many residents lost their homes. The telecommunications infrastructure was also heavily damaged. A total of 300 base stations in Deutsche Telekom's mobile network went offline as a result of the storm. In such emergency situations, communications are especially important, however – for organizing assistance, networking with others, and informing family and friends. Here are some examples of measures we carried out in order to help alleviate the situation in the areas hit by the disaster:

  • Restoring communications
    Our technicians worked day and night in order to repair damaged and destroyed mobile and fixed networks and to get emergency replacements up and running. The mobile network was 100 percent restored within one week, and the fixed network was restored to a degree of 90 percent within two months. In particularly hard-hit regions, we are not repairing damaged copper-cable accesses, and are instead installing new fiber-optic networks with fiber-to-the-home (FTTH img) accesses. For customers affected by the disaster, we provide LTE or hybrid routers free of charge, for a twelve-month period. With both types of routers, telephony and internet access with unlimited data allowance are included. Customers are not billed for their fixed-network accesses while they not yet operational. Furthermore, customers receive a simplified special right of termination in cases in which their property cannot be used or lived in for a prolonged period.
  • Rapid assistance on location
    In order to help affected people as quickly and unbureaucratically as possible, our response teams and volunteers distributed some 13 000 power banks, emergency cell phones with SIM cards, internet quick-start kits, routers, and other equipment among the people in the regions hit by the floods. For our mobile customers, we provided 60 days' worth of free, unlimited data allowance. To our helpers on location, we also distributed data vouchers. In the interest of providing direct, fast assistance on location, we set up “Telekom Shop” containers and mobile service stations in various regions.
  • Donations for victims
    On July 24, 2021, the German TV channel SAT.1 and the Germany’s Relief Coalition conducted a nationwide fundraiser for the victims of the terrible floods. Some 2,000 of our employees volunteered to staff the hotlines for the fundraiser and receive TV viewers' pledges. In total, over 31 million euros were raised. In addition to staffing the donation hotlines, we made a donation of one million euros to Germany’s Relief Coalition, in support of its work. Prize money won in connection with the Telekom Team Award – with which achievements of Deutsche Telekom teams are honored – was also donated. The employees in two prize-winning teams donated all of their 40 000 euros of prize money to victims of the flooding.
  • Support for our employees
    Assistance was also provided to employees who were affected by the extreme floods. The assistance included financial support provided by the Post Postbank Telekom Welfare Service and Deutsche Telekom’s social fund. In addition, they, along with volunteer helpers, became eligible for up to five days of paid special vacation. Also, affected employees were invited to make use of the counseling service provided by psychosocial support experts at “SPRECHZEIT” – a hotline that is part of our range of health services.

USA: Hurricane Ida
At the end of August 2021, hurricane Ida caused heavy damage in Louisiana, in the southeastern U.S. Teams of our national company T-Mobile US responded on location, by distributing chargers and phones. Affected persons also received packages with unlimited free calling, texting, and data allowances.

In preparing for disasters, T-Mobile US applies a comprehensive approach. It works closely with the country's meteorologists, and it watches carefully for any signs of climate-related emergencies. Its network response teams stand ready 24/7, 365 days of the year, to respond quickly in emergencies.

Czech Republic: A tornado
At the end of June 2021, a tornado in the southeastern part of the Czech Republic killed and injured people, and damaged buildings and infrastructure. T-Mobile Czech Republic provided therapists and humanitarian responders with free services and phones for their work. Those affected by the storm were also given free phone service, including calling, texting and data transmission. Also, to help people in the affected area, our national company and its employees donated more than 250 000 euros to ADRA, a charitable organization, and to the VIA Foundation.

North Macedonia: Forest fires
In 2021, North Macedonia experienced severe forest fires. Makedonski Telekom responded with emergency measures that enabled residents in the area to stay connected. In cooperation with the local Red Cross, the national company also made donations to people affected by the fires.

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