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Values and Guiding Principles.

  • Ten years of the Telekom Social Charter  ‒ now updated and expanded.
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  • Fourth Guiding Principles Day shows how our Guiding Principles are filled with life in day-to-day practice. 
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Corporate responsibility (CR) is based on shared values. It is important to communicate these fundamental values to all employees in the form of mandatory guiding principles and codes of conduct in order to guarantee a value-based corporate culture. Deutsche Telekom has created effective tools for doing this with its Guiding Principles, its Code of Conduct and its Social Charter. These are an important basis for our compliance management, which guarantees the lawfulness of our corporate activities.

Our Guiding Principles are a living set of values. We regularly update them in keeping with new developments. In 2013, for example, we added the concept of "simplicity" to the first guiding principle. Our Guiding Principles are an important topic in internal communication at the Group, particularly during our annual Guiding Principles Day. Our focus on these principles helps us promote responsible, sustainable conduct in our daily work activities.

We also revised our Social Charter  in 2013 and made a few additions to it. 

Embracing our guiding principles.

Telekom's Guiding Principles are a key tool in our human resources activities. They form the basis for reliable cooperation at the company and motivate us to keep delighting our customers with our products and services. We encourage our employees to incorporate the Guiding Principles into their everyday work through regular communication.

In 2013 we added the concept of simplicity to our first Guiding Principle, which now says "Customer delight and simplicity drive our action." We announced the addition in a Group-wide video spot and discussed what this new idea means for our employees in our internal social network. Employees also participated in a number of activities under the "simplicity" theme at our fourth Guiding Principles Day in September. The Chief Human Resources Officer prepared a video message on the topic for our employees as well. We also published a video and a photo show on 5 Years of Guiding Principles on the Telekom Social Network (TSN) to mark the occasion of the five-year anniversary of our Guiding Principles.

Putting our efforts to the test.
We have been conducting pulse surveys for several years now to find out what our employees think about different Telekom topics. We ask them to respond to several statements with yes or no including the statement "I experience the Guiding Principles being lived in my day-to-day work." The positive feedback is growing every year. 66 percent responded with yes in the April 2013 survey. That is three percentage points more than the results from October 2012. And 70 percent responded with yes in our November 2013 survey. That shows that our efforts are paying off.

Guiding Priciples Day.

Telekom held its fourth Group-wide Guiding Principles Day on September 25, 2013. Each employee is called upon to think about the Guiding Principles and come up with ideas on how to fill them with life in day-to-day work. The annual event is a huge success throughout the different countries and cultures. There are many examples showing how our corporate values connect our employees.

The focus of the 2013 Guiding Principles Day was "Customer delight and simplicity drive our action," the first of our five Guiding Principles, to which we added the concept of simplicity at the start of the year. We invited our employees to "simply give it a try." The Group units are free to organize the day as they see fit. Activities in 2013 ranged from making huge magenta Ts in Austria to a colorful team event in Slovakia. The Chief Human Resources Officer prepared a video message on the topic for our employees. Niek Jan van Damme, Managing Director, and Dietmar Welslau, Director for Human Resources at Telekom Deutschland GmbH, invited the employees to "simply spend some time talking with the executive management." The role that our Guiding Principles play in our daily business activities was discussed at every event. Our employees used our internal Telekom Social Network (TSN) extensively to discuss the topic.

Even the 9th Telekom BarCamp, which was held in Bonn that same day, mirrored the theme of Guiding Principles Day. A BarCamp is a conference at which the participants decide what the content and agenda will be at the start of the conference itself. It is supported by discussions in social media. More than 400 employees met at a total of 30 workshops to talk about how to simplify things in their daily work. All of our employees had the opportunity to follow the event live on the intranet and TSN.

Guiding Principles Day also included activities that centered around our employees' volunteer efforts (corporate volunteering). Activities ranged from volunteering for Deutsche Tafel e.V., the German food bank federation, to giving blood or helping teach people with mental disabilities how to use the Internet and cell phones. One focal point was the blood typing drive run by DKMS, the German bone marrow donor center, in Bonn and Darmstadt. The idea of incorporating corporate volunteering into the Guiding Principles Day concept was developed at the 11th CR Manager Meeting in spring 2013.

Compliance with human rights.

The corporate responsibility to respect human rights is integrated into Telekom's fundamental policies: the Guiding Principles, Code of Conduct and the Social Charter. Other important guidelines for compliance with human rights are contained in Telekom's Employee Relations Policy and Diversity Policy.

The Employee Relations Policy, which has been rolled out throughout the Group, defines the core elements of Deutsche Telekom's human resources policy and describes what we stand for in our relationships to our employees around the globe. These relationships are characterized by our shared values and are derived from our five Guiding Principles as well as from additional Group policies. The Employee Relations Policy also includes statements on the following topics: employee development, handling change responsibly, health and sustainability, fair pay, work-life balance, leadership, diversity, communication and collaboration with employee representatives as well as the ban on discrimination.

With our Diversity Policy which is also mandatory throughout the Group and which specifies one of these core elements in greater detail, we make a commitment to meeting minimum standards in our treatment of employees in order to prevent any kind of discrimination, i.e., based on gender, age, disability, ethnic background, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.

Guidelines on human rights in the ICT sector.
The European Commission published guidelines on human rights in the information and communications sector in July 2013. As part of an expert group, Telekom representatives contributed to the development of recommendations specified in the guidelines. Alongside, we analyzed the strategic consequences the guidelines would have on the respect for human rights in our business activities at an early stage. We also identified areas within the Group where activities and processes could have an impact on human rights – both positive and negative. In discussions with the respective units, we will identify opportunities to strengthen human rights in the context of our business activities as well as potential human rights risks and how we could prevent or minimize these.

Start of human rights impact assessments.
Telekom began conducting human rights impact assessments based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in 2013. The assessments help us identify the impact that business activities in and outside the Group have on potentially affected groups of people while introducing a continual improvement process as needed. We decided to take a country-specific approach to these assessments and included human rights issues in the evaluation process organized at our different national companies within the framework of the Group Employee Relations Policy. Our employees were identified as the affected group of people in this context. As part of a dialog with both managers and employees, we asked questions about human rights aspects that may be relevant to our employees, e.g., health, equal rights, access to complaint channels and working conditions. We summarized the results in internal reports, analyzed them in terms of our corporate processes and developed concrete follow-up measures. In one case, for example, a project had resulted in excessive extra work for employees over a considerable period of time. On the basis of the evaluation, the resource allocation in the project was adjusted, decreasing the extra workload. We systematically monitored the implementation and effectiveness of these measures. We plan to continue this approach in 2014 and take a closer look at the possible impact of our business activities on human rights in selected countries.

As part of our sustainable supplier management system, we also conduct employee interviews during social audits. Further information on this can be found in the "Supplier management" section.

Human rights perspective integrated into processes.
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights require companies to more effectively integrate the human rights perspective into relevant business areas and internal processes. In order to implement it, we, for instance, integrated a human rights perspective into our due diligence activities of mergers and acquisitions. Hence, from the beginning of merger and acquisition processes onwards, our Human Resources personnel are able to take human rights issues during the risk assessment into account. We plan to continue the integration process in 2014 that is already underway. The sustainability requirements (e.g., 1st principle "Act responsibly - think globally") which we integrated into our Design Principles for product development in 2012 also represent an initial step on which we can expand.

Complaint channels modified.
We offer employees, investors, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders the opportunity to notify us of possible violations of Telekom policies, legal regulations or codes of conduct. Information can be provided - anonymously, if desired - to central or local compliance units. This also applies to potential human rights violations and possible violations of the principles specified in our Social Charter . Tip-offs can be sent by e-mail, phone, mail or via an anonymous whistleblower system in various languages. This anonymous whistleblower system works like an electronic mailbox and enables anonymous dialog. All tip-offs received are checked by specially trained employees from our Group.

Our revised Social Charter, which was adopted in October 2013, explicitly refers to the set-up of a point of contact for human rights issues. We have reported both internally and externally on the platform which will hopefully encourage people to report human rights concerns in case a potential human rights violation occurs. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights address complaint channels at the corporate level and name criteria for judging the effectiveness of non-judicial complaint mechanisms. Therefore, in case of a human rights-related tip-off, the contact point for human rights will nowadays be involved into the process of the grievance mechanism. One of the criteria for judging the effectiveness of complaint channels is the constant improvement of the mechanism. For this reason, we will review the system annually in order to learn from past incidents and the follow-up processes involved. We plan to create more transparency by annually reporting anonymized on incidents that were reported.

After attending workshops in 2012 and 2013, Telekom became a member of a learning group hosted by the German Global Compact  Network during the reporting period. The learning group aims at analyzing and improving management skills with regard to business and human rights. The aim is to stay up-to-date on current developments, share information with representatives from other companies and develop measures to strengthen the respect for human rights at our company. We also participate in working groups on human rights organized by econsense – Forum for Sustainable Development of German Business and GeSI (Global eSustainability Initiative).

New revised Social Charter published.

Telekom expressed its commitment to ethical corporate governance in its Social Charter which was introduced ten years ago. The Charter was revised and complemented in 2013. One of the reasons for this was to align it with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The core of our Social Charter , however, remains unchanged. It specifies the working conditions and social standards under which our products and services are produced and offered. The Social Charter  is a behavioral guideline for all of our employees, investors, customers and suppliers.

The most significant changes deal with the general treatment of human rights issues and the set-up of a point of contact for internal and external inquiries on human rights. Telekom is also committed to using its technologies, products and services to promote respect for human rights.

The Social Charter  documents Deutsche Telekom's commitment to observing international standards and avoiding human rights violations even where national law and regulation are not sufficient or absent. The revised Social Charter  also addresses the topics of sustainability and environmental protection. Furthermore, it explicitly specifies employee rights to protection against disciplinary measures.

We added a new section on communication and transparency in line with one of the key requirements specified in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. In this section, Telekom commits to regularly reporting on its progress in implementing the basic principles contained in the Social Charter . This CR Report is one example of Telekom's communication measures.

Code of Responsible Conduct for Business.

Telekom was among the first to sign the German Code of Responsible Conduct for Business, which was presented to the public in November 2010. This was an express commitment to responsible corporate governance in line with the principles of the social market economy, to fair competition, cooperation with employee representatives, business excellence and sustainability. Our comprehensive CR activities bear witness of this commitment. With our Guiding Principles, Code of Conduct and Social Charter , we have created a framework that also provides guidance to our employees and suppliers.

We also actively participate in discussions regarding the Code of Responsible Conduct for Business, thereby helping to spread it as a joint project of German enterprises. 43 companies and five other organizations have made an official commitment to the Code of Responsible Conduct for Business to date (last updated February 28, 2014).