are everyone’s concern
Human rights violations – they only happen in far-off lands, don’t they? Even though most of the cases of child labor, human trafficking, and catastrophic working conditions we hear about occur in developing or low-wage countries, western democracies are not immune to human rights abuses.
On our doorstep
Attacks on freedom of expression, religion, or assembly, discrimination against people who think differently or have a different sexual orientation – we can find examples of all these right on our doorstep and in the digital world. It is not just individuals who have a duty to respect human rights – companies also need to play their part. Furthermore, they can play a big part, whether in terms of health and safety in the workplace, living wages, adopting an anti-discrimination stance, or enforcing the ban on child and forced labor. Of course, companies can also set a good example. With our “No hate speech” campaign, we are championing respectful online behavior.
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights were agreed in 2011 and require companies to systematically investigate how their business activities impact human rights. Companies are also required to prevent, mitigate, or if necessary make good any negative consequences. As an international Group, we are actively protecting human rights, both inside our company and beyond. We have made an express commitment to upholding the UN Guiding Principles and have developed a human rights program so we can meet the corresponding requirements.
Declaration on the protection of human rightsWe have numerous guidelines that apply throughout the company worldwide, demonstrating our commitment to protect human rights. Together, they form what could be called our Human Rights Constitution. Our “Code of Human Rights & Social Principles” sets out guidance for all employees and for our partners, investors, and Deutsche Telekom suppliers. This code includes a commitment to diversity and a ban on forced labor, human trafficking, modern slavery, and child labor.
Our Code of Conduct applies to all Deutsche Telekom employees. It gives them clear directions on how to conduct themselves appropriately. Another directive governs employee-employer relationships at Deutsche Telekom. This “Employee Relations Policy” uses 12 key elements to outline what Deutsche Telekom as an employer stands for worldwide. For example, it is very important to us that our employees can enjoy freedom of expression. Through our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Group Policy we have made a commitment to equality of opportunity and diversity as part of our corporate culture. When developing innovative technologies, people still have to come first, which is why we have made this part of our Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Contact point for complaints
We would ask anyone who has reasons to believe that human rights, laws, or Deutsche Telekom regulations have been breached within our company to report these breaches to us. Examples could include violations of someone’s freedom of expression or cases of discrimination or bullying. We investigate all reports and, where necessary, put in place countermeasures. There are various contact points:
If our employees have concerns regarding human rights, they can raise the issue with their line manager personally at any time.
Contact point for
This contact point is open to everyone – regardless of whether they have a contractual or business relationship with us. Employees of our suppliers can also use this contact point. It can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
TellMe whistleblower portal
People from outside the company and employees can use TellMe to report breaches or infringements of laws and internal regulations – with confidentiality guaranteed.
Whether whistleblowers are employees or externals, sometimes they will prefer to stay anonymous. They can achieve this using a certified, anonymous web form.
Analyzing human rights risks
We want to ensure our guidelines for protecting human rights are followed everywhere. That is why, each year, we review compliance with our Code of Human Rights & Social Principles and “Employee Relations Policy”. To do this, we evaluate our employee surveys, which tell us how satisfied employees are with us and how prepared they are to recommend Deutsche Telekom as an employer, for example. Another important factor is how high the general risk of human rights violations is in the relevant country. We check this based on a recognized international index (Maplecroft’s “Human Rights Risk Index”). We work with the responsible executives on site to evaluate the results. If it turns out that we need to do even better in certain areas, we carry out detailed interviews with employees. This enables us to put in place targeted improvement measures. We also carry out a “Human Rights Impact Assessment” if necessary, which involves surveying our employees, management, and the employees of our suppliers, as well as holding talks with NGOs. These assessments are supplemented with workshops. The aim is to ensure our managers and employees are well trained and informed on the subject of human rights. We refer to the entire process as “Human Rights Impact Assessment and Engagement”.
Human rights among suppliers
We make sure that socially acceptable working conditions are safeguarded among suppliers and that grievances are resolved. Find out more
Anchoring human rights protection in the entire companyThe protection of human rights plays an important role in all parts of the company. We have conducted an analysis to identify the areas at Deutsche Telekom where the protection of human rights plays an especially important role. These include the HR department, but also Procurement, for example. In the latter case, we need to consider the products we are procuring from suppliers and take into account the working conditions under which these products have been manufactured. By contrast, the focus in the marketing department is on ensuring our advertising messages do not offend or discriminate against anyone. Representatives from the various parts of the company also regularly discuss the latest requirements associated with protecting human rights.
Transparency and communication
Each year, we publish a Group-wide “Human Rights & Social Performance Report” in which all Deutsche Telekom companies declare that they comply with our Code of Human Rights & Social Principles. If there have been infractions, these are set out transparently. We also report regularly on the results of our assessments and checks in relation to human rights. Furthermore, this information is made available to our employees internally, on our “You and Me UNITED” (YAM UNITED) social network.
Raising awareness and networks
What does human rights protection mean for Deutsche Telekom? What can our employees do in their day-to-day work to ensure human rights are respected? We answer these questions and more like them in our online employee training course on human rights. The course is available worldwide and aims to reinforce awareness of human rights in the company. We also run regular internal training courses and communications campaigns related to human rights.
The worlds of business, politics, and civil society need to work closely together to promote respect for human rights worldwide. We want to play our part in shining a light on abuses and helping to develop appropriate solutions. That is why we are committed to various initiatives, such as the German Global Compact Network and the econsense network of companies. For us, engaging with the issue of human rights and carrying out relevant analyses in line with Germany’s National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights (NAP) is part of an ongoing process that we are continuously refining and, when necessary, adapting.