By using targeted measures to get our stakeholders involved, we can build long-term, trust-based relationships and increase understanding for our concerns and activities. Last but not least, dialog with our stakeholders is also a source of inspiration for innovation processes and a basis for new cooperations or strategic partnerships. This is especially important with regard to our sustainability goals, which we will only be able to achieve together with partners from politics, society, science and industry.
To be successful, it is vital that we intensify stakeholder involvement. The only way to tackle many of the challenges we face is to work together, e.g., managing a sustainable supply chain. We therefore set great store by lasting and trusting relationships with our stakeholders. With this in mind, we developed a new strategy in 2011. Our aim is to take the issues put forward by our stakeholders seriously and to ensure that top quality standards are applied in our stakeholder involvement approach. In this, we are guided first and foremost by the three AA1000 principles developed by the non-governmental AccountAbility organization: materiality, inclusivity and responsiveness. Our activities in 2012 included drawing up a guideline for our staff. This "Guide to successful stakeholder engagement" contains valuable practical advice, recommendations and tools. After conducting an audit, the PricewaterhouseCoopers auditing firm confirmed during the reporting period that there is moderate assurance that our systems and processes are suitable for the involvement of interest groups in compliance with AA1000 .
Network meeting to share best practices in 2012.
An important pillar in our stakeholder involvement strategy is our semi-annual, internal network meetings. These meetings give all interested employees from different departments a platform where they can share experiences dealing with stakeholders and discuss best practice examples as well as plan and conduct joint activities.
The views and expectations voiced by our internal and external stakeholders had a considerable influence on the design of the strategy. As a result, the strategy adopted by Deutsche Telekom in December 2011 is based on the following three pillars:
1. Our strategic profile: The strategic profile designates relevant stakeholder groups and defines how the Group wants to fashion its relationship to these stakeholders. In addition to providing information and engaging in dialog, we are increasingly focused on participatory formats which customers, employees, NGOs and other stakeholders can use to get involved and make contributions. To this end, we are offering options to participate in discussing topics and finding solutions in the different action areas of our CR strategy.
2. Internal skills development and service: We are developing an infrastructure that will help our employees implement the strategy in practice. Internal network meetings help to exchange experiences in dealing with stakeholders, to discuss practical examples and to plan and implement joint activities. We offer a guide to provide our employees with orientation when implementing stakeholder formats.
3. Development of a stakeholder management system: We are creating transparency in all corporate processes relevant to stakeholder relationships. In this vein, we are documenting our stakeholder activities and monitoring the development of relevant stakeholder topics. In addition, we have been testing our materiality process designed to handle our stakeholders' feedback since 2011 and will gradually integrate it into the evaluation process.
Deutsche Telekom came up with six principles for working with stakeholders and communicated them internally in 2012 to help our employees better implement our stakeholder involvement strategy. The first principle with top priority requires our employees to pay respect to the interests of our stakeholders and take these into consideration when making company business decisions. Employees are also required to actively include interest groups using participative formats, to focus on key stakeholder topics and to take a balanced approach to dealing with different stakeholder interests. Moreover, stakeholders are to be provided with extensive information on all relevant activities.
The principles were developed during a participative process involving internal and external stakeholders. After conducting an audit, the PricewaterhouseCoopers auditing firm confirmed during the reporting period that there is moderate assurance that our policies are suitable for the involvement of interest groups in compliance with AA1000 .
In addition to publishing our principles for working with stakeholders, we drafted a concise statement when developing our strategy. This statement was designed to help our employees implement the principles:
- Valuing our stakeholders: We listen to our stakeholders and provide them with transparent information about our activities.
- Getting our stakeholders involved: We address relevant topics and engage in dialog and collaborations with our stakeholders.
- Understanding our stakeholders: We take the concerns of stakeholders seriously and take appropriate steps in response to them.
We consulted the AA1000 standard when developing our stakeholder involvement strategy. This is an internationally recognized body of rules and regulations for auditing sustainability management and CR reporting. At the end of 2011, accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) issued a moderate assurance report, which confirms that Deutsche Telekom heeds the AA1000 AccountAbility principles in its CR processes and systems ("Type 1 audit"). The assurance engagement also took into account the stakeholder involvement strategy. The 2011 CR Report, which was published in 2012, was also the subject of a moderate assurance engagement by PwC based on the AA1000 principles. This means that we achieved our target of having a type 2 audit conducted in 2012.
We developed a guide for successful stakeholder involvement in 2012 to provide our employees with orientation on how to best work with our stakeholders. The guide provides answers to numerous questions on how to implement our principles in every-day-work and shows our employees how they can use these to benefit our company and to achieve their own project goals.
The guide is structured into five steps ranging from setting a goal to selecting a suitable participative format, providing readers with instructions on how to get the relevant stakeholders involved successfully. The guide contains tips on how to determine the appropriate extent of stakeholder involvement and how to select the relevant stakeholder groups. Employees can use the guide as a reference when developing their project agenda. It also introduces several formats for getting stakeholders involved in detail including crowd sourcing and establishing a strategic partnership. In addition, the guide provides numerous tips for working with stakeholders and lists contacts that our employees can turn to for support in their stakeholder involvement activities.
Recognition for stakeholder involvement.
Telekom received a very high ranking in the stakeholder involvement category in key CR rankings in 2012. The Swiss agency SAM even gave Telekom the highest score. We consider this a confirmation that our efforts are paying off and will keep following the charted course.