Human rights

Close all Expand all

Our approach to protecting human rights

“Acting responsibly” is an integral part of our corporate strategy and therefore a requirement for all employees in our Group. Protecting human rights and environmental concerns have been a key part of our business activities and corporate governance for more than two decades.

Our commitment: We undertake to respect and promote human rights and environmental regulations everywhere that we are active; this includes our supply chains and business partners.

In order to make this commitment a reality, ever since 2016 we have worked to develop and implement a comprehensive program for human rights and environmental due diligence. This includes measures such as regular analysis of potential risks and the impacts of our business activities with respect to human rights and environmental concerns. We use the results of these analyses to avoid, minimize, or halt any negative impacts. They also enable us to make targeted improvements.

In our Code of Human Rights, we spell out in detail our commitment to respecting and promoting human rights and environmental concerns everywhere we operate – including our suppliers and business partners. The code (formerly the “Code of Human Rights & Social Principles”) is part of our human rights policy statement and was expanded over the course of the reporting year. Content such as the existing Employee Relations Policy as well as our regulations on shaping employee relations and employee concerns were integrated more fully. The code was adopted by the Group Board of Management in 2023 and subsequently published internally and externally. The code’s adoption by the management bodies of the Group companies included began at the same time. This process is to be continued in 2024. The Code of Human Rights outlines our values and standards, which are set forth in greater detail in our internal Group Policies, instructions, and processes, creating our framework for action. We are guided by internationally recognized human and environmental reference frameworks, such as the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the core labour standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO img), or the OECD img Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

At the beginning of 2023, the German Act on Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains (Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz – LkSG) came into force. It sets additional requirements for us regarding the exercise of human rights and environment-related due diligence obligations – both for the entrepreneurial activities of our Group companies and for our global supply chain. In order to fulfill these requirements, we have fully adapted our due diligence processes and incorporated them step-by-step into the applicable business workflows. The new structure of the revised Code of Human Rights is also based on the requirements of the LkSG.

The Board of Management of Deutsche Telekom AG and the management of the individual Group companies are responsible for implementation of and compliance with our due diligence processes. Periodic and/or event-driven (ad hoc) internal reporting on human rights and environment-related results in decision-making bodies (e.g., management bodies) ensures that it is always possible to make informed decisions. To train employees in human rights, we updated our existing human rights training over the course of the reporting year and made it available in more languages.

Deutsche Telekom created the roles of human rights officer and LkSG officer in order to monitor the effectiveness of LkSG risk management system. In accordance with a decision by the Board of Management, these roles will be taken on by the Vice President of Group Corporate Responsibility. As human rights officer, this person reports directly to the Chair of the Board of Management of Deutsche Telekom AG and has further supporting functions. Where required to under national regulations, Group companies have appointed monitoring roles in the same form for their business areas. The overall coordination of the human rights risk assessment processes and responsibility for the overarching human rights strategy are taken care of by Group Corporate Responsibility.

Other new obligations arising from the LkSG are covered by existing functions. For example, Group Compliance Management is responsible for carrying out the compliance risk assessment. This risk assessment has been supplemented with additional human rights and environmental dimensions, making it an internal source for identifying risks within our own business. Employees from HR are responsible for the topic of “Suitable working conditions, occupational health and safety.” The environmental topics are managed by Group Corporate Responsibility.


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

  • GRI 406 3-3 (Management of material topics)
  • GRI 407 3-3 (Management of material topics)



Risk assessment processes

We revised our risk management system in 2023 and incorporated it to a greater extent into all relevant business workflows. The aim of risk management is to recognize, prevent, or minimize human rights or environmental risks. It is based on individual due diligence obligations, which comprise the following core elements:

  • Risk assessments for the entire supply chain
  • Preventive and remedial action incl. audits img and effectiveness reviews
  • Complaints process
  • Reporting

Risk assessments for the entire supply chain
We want to use risk assessments to help gain transparency regarding human rights and environmental risks within the supply chain. They should enable us to derive targeted follow-up measures and therefore effectively eradicate or minimize any actual or potential risks. As part of the LkSG risk management system, we carry out annual risk assessments for our own business units in the Group companies included as well as their direct suppliers. This came to 248 Group companies and approx. 20 000 direct suppliers in 2023. The T-Mobile US subgroup is excluded from this and has its own system for carrying out risk assessments.

When carrying out these assessments, we inspected external and internal information, reviewing it for plausibility and prioritizing it accordingly. We have included information from publicly accessible reports on country and industry risks, as well as information from our existing management processes. We received internal information from sources such as complaints processes, the results of the compliance risk assessment, employee surveys, audits, and certifications. We also take into account internal and external knowledge on human rights and the environment from the relevant experts who are appointed and reviewed each year as LkSG specialists. As of the year under review, we are following this process to create an annual risk matrix for our own business as well as a risk scale for suppliers which differentiates between high, medium, and low human rights and environmental risks in the supply chain. The results of the risk matrix are adopted by the Group Board of Management. They form the basis for deriving further measures and are furthermore incorporated into decision-making processes for the company. They also influence our approach to internal and external communication. The results for 2023 were published in our “Annual Policy Statement on the human rights strategy (Annual report LkSG)”.

In addition to the annual assessments, ad hoc risk assessments are carried out for the entire supply chain, including business partners. This also includes considering the risks before entering into a new business relationship such as part of company acquisitions, for example. In 2023, ad hoc risk assessments were triggered by situations such as extreme weather in Greece and the war in the Middle East. Such an assessment was also required within our own business due to the foundation of the new company, Deutsche Telekom Tiefbau GmbH. Other triggers included tip-offs regarding potential risks or violations which were submitted via our TellMe complaints channel.

Deriving and implementing preventive and remedial action
As soon as a high-level risk and/or violation of a due diligence obligation is identified as part of an annual or ad hoc risk assessment, we step in immediately with suitable, risk-based preventive and/or remedial action. This includes, for example, revising and implementing policies or instructions. We also carry out training as needed and perform local, risk-based controls, such as in the form of Human Rights Impact Assessments or internal and external audits.

For example, the following measures were carried out in 2023:

  • Amending our Code of Human Rights, incl. our policy statement and adjusting our expectations of employees and suppliers
  • Revising and implementing Group-wide human rights training for all Group employees (without T-Mobile US)
  • Carrying out in-depth training for employees with a focus on discrimination as part of a newly devised e-learning img course
  • Implementation of specialist training, such as for procurement roles
  • Engagement in networks and associations such as the Joint Alliance for CSR (JAC, formerly known as Joint Audit Cooperation) for the purposes of carrying out joint audits for suppliers on industry-wide and/or overarching topics, the United Nations Global Compact, or econsense.

Based on the risk position as determined, we saw no need for a risk-based audit img in 2023 in the form of an on-site Human Rights Impact Assessment for any of the Group companies in scope.

Complaints process
Our whistleblower portal TellMe provides people from all stakeholder img groups with the option to report information regarding misconduct. This also provides an opportunity to give tip-offs regarding misconduct affecting human rights or environmental concerns which relate to Deutsche Telekom or our supply chain.

The public can access the procedure through our homepage and via the websites of the Group companies. To ensure that everyone is able to access the complaints process, we accept tip-offs both by phone via a free, international service number as well as via email, post, or online submission through the aforementioned website – all this can be done anonymously too, if needed.

All tip-offs are taken on and processed by trained staff from our Compliance unit. Our experts make sure to adhere to the statutory requirements in doing so and do their best to protect the whistleblower. Insights from complaints and tip-offs are incorporated into the annual risk assessments.

Via the TellMe whistleblower and complaints portal, employees and external third parties can submit information and report complaints – anonymously, if needed. A total of five tip-offs and complaints relating to human rights or environmental law were received via TellMe in the reporting year. In particular, risks relating to civil engineering work for the rollout of optical fiber were derived from the complaints and tip-offs received and factored into the annual risk analysis.

We published the following reports and documents focusing on the subject of human rights in the reporting year:

  • Code of Human Rights: Part of the policy statement on the human rights strategy in accordance with § 6 II Supply Chain Act (LkSG)
  • Annual LkSG report: Results of the annual risk assessment for 2023 as a supplementary policy statement on the human rights strategy of Deutsche Telekom AG as well as the other German Group companies that are subject to reporting duties in accordance with LkSG.

We plan to disclose the official reporting to the supervisory authorities in accordance with LkSG four months after the end of the respective reporting year at the latest via our website in accordance with § 10 LkSG.


Please do not enter any personal data in the question field.
After you have sent your question, you will receive a prompt reply from our experts.

Send question

benchmarking tool

Through our interactive benchmarking tool, important facts and figures of our national companies can be analysed and compared.

please rotate your device


  • Highlights

    We are working on behalf

    of an online world in which all people

    can participate and coexist in

    keeping with democratic principles

    We are working on behalf of an online world in which all people can participate and coexist in keeping with democratic principles

    Via our “No hate speech” initiative, we once again reached a great many people (about 865 million media contacts), including the many opinion leaders and educators (about 5.7 million people) we contacted directly.

    Our “ShareWithCare” campaign also reached a great many people – and it has played an important role, worldwide, in discussion about online sharing of photos of children. With over 250 million media contacts, ShareWithCare has successfully raised awareness about issues surrounding online sharing of children’s photos and data.

    Also, via programs such as Teachtoday and Scroller, we have continued working to promote media literacy in people of all ages, always with the aim of helping people navigate cyberspace safely, securely and with confidence.

    More than 200 000 people work at Deutsche Telekom – and every one of them is unique. This diversity is our strength. In keeping with our understanding of diversity, we offer our employees many ways to keep developing and growing professionally and personally. Thanks to such efforts, our employees’ satisfaction levels remain high: In 2023, our “engagement score,” which is calculated on the basis of responses in subject areas such as mood, employer attractiveness, brand identity, and inspiration, totaled 76 percent.

    Detailed examples of our progress in 2023, described from the perspectives of both the Group and our segments, are presented in the subsections.

    Highlight numbers

    Highlight numbers

    Progress of selected KPIs in  2023

    • 2022 2023

    • Community Contribution 2 346m. € 1 504m. €

    • Beneficiaries – Focus Topics 41m. 51m.

    • Reach – Focus Topics 2 070m. 1 734m.

    • Employee satisfaction 78% 76%

    • Proportion of women in middle and upper management 28.1% 27.9%

    Topic overview

    Read more

    Find out more about the topic

    Social in the topic specials

    Find out more about the topic Social in the topic specials