A company's stakeholders have considerable influence on how that company does business and, in the end, on the success of that company's business. Companies need to keep their stakeholders informed and have to account for their activities. Stakeholders participate in the value created in different ways.
Companies that listen to their stakeholders and actively involve them in management processes can benefit considerably. They have the chance to establish long-term, reliable relationships and receive understanding or constructive criticism on their concerns and activities in return. Precise knowledge of our stakeholders' interests and views is a basic prerequisite for an informed design of stakeholder relationships. It is important to engage in effective dialog with our stakeholders about their priorities and ideas. To help facilitate this discussion, we use proven market research tools to conduct systematic stakeholder surveys.
Telekom is convinced that engaging in dialog with its stakeholders facilitates innovation processes at the company and promotes new collaboration opportunities and strategic alliances. This is especially important with regard to our sustainability goals, which we will only be able to achieve together with partners from the worlds of politics, society, science and industry.
Deutsche Telekom developed a stakeholder involvement strategy in 2011 to help the company structure its relationship to its stakeholders on the basis of a stable, reliable foundation. 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.
We reviewed and in part redesigned the strategy in 2013, focusing on measures that are relevant to suppliers and investors – in addition to employees, customers and NGOs, who continue to play a key role in our strategy.
The concept of our stakeholder involvement strategy was based on the AA1000 standard. This is an internationally recognized body of rules and regulations for auditing sustainability management and CR reporting.
After reviewing Deutsche Telekom's operational processes, systems and CR reporting processes, the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) auditing firm confirmed that there is moderate assurance of Deutsche Telekom's compliance with the AA1000 accountability principles. This confirms that we met the requirements of a Type 2 audit in 2013.
Our employees play a key role when it comes to putting our stakeholder involvement strategy into practice. In 2012 Deutsche Telekom developed six principles for working with stakeholders and communicated these throughout the Group to support our employees in their efforts.
It is important to determine how our CR activities are perceived and assessed by our stakeholders so that we can focus these activities effectively. We take a multifaceted approach here:
- We systematically ask our stakeholders about their expectations when it comes to successful dialog. This tells us how we can most effectively include them in our management processes through our dialog efforts.
- We identify and analyze the key topics our stakeholders are most concerned with in our ongoing CR topic monitoring process. This helps us to continue to develop our expertise in current CR-relevant discourse and support our stakeholders as well-informed dialog partners in addressing issues that are relevant to the community.
- We ask our stakeholders to weight our focal points in the context of our CR action areas via a phased materiality process.
- Our stakeholders' responses also tell us how well our sustainability messages fit their perception of the Telekom Group and help us evaluate our communication efforts.
We conduct internal network meetings to integrate stakeholder involvement into our corporate culture. At these meetings we meet with employees from different departments, share experiences in working with stakeholders and discuss best practice examples as well as plan and conduct joint activities.
Stakeholder management was also on the agenda at the international CR Manager Network meeting, which was held in Munich on April 25 and 26. CR managers from our national companies talked about the stakeholder involvement strategy and discussed the different forms of collaboration with specific stakeholders.