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  • 2017 Corporate Responsibility Report

Statement by the Chairman of the Board of Management

Timotheus Höttges, Chairman of the Board of Management, Bonn, Deutschland
Timotheus Höttges, Chairman of the Board of Management, Bonn, Deutschland

Dear Readers,

The year 2017 ended with a real highlight for Deutsche Telekom: In December, we received the German Sustainability Award for our holistic sustainability management. I am pleased that this award recognizes not only our many years of work, but also how we are using the opportunities offered by digitalization for a better future.

This positive conclusion to the year was important for me. For looking back at the year, there was again great cause for concern in 2017: persistent armed conflicts forcing people to flee their homeland. Political rhetoric exacerbating conflicts rather than defusing them. Burgeoning nationalism focusing on division and not on cooperation. And fatal ignorance as regards the consequences of climate change, threatening to undo the hard-won progress of recent years.

But anyone who just decides to sit back and do nothing is drawing the wrong conclusions. I feel very strongly that standing by our convictions has seldom been more important than today. This applies not only to us as individuals; it is particularly relevant to Deutsche Telekom as a company. The values for which Deutsche Telekom stands must be defended. We are a European undertaking, and believe in the European vision of shared prosperity and social security. It is not for nothing that our brand motto is Life is for sharing. We want to enable sharing through digitalization in Europe and beyond. We stand for optimism as well, for in order to leave a world worth living for the next generation, we must stride into the future with courage and curiosity.

The biggest driver for this is digitalization. It will enable progress in the fight against climate change, in medicine and education, creating more livable cities and inventing new products for a more sustainable everyday life. So what is our role as Deutsche Telekom? We are "enablers": In this way, we want to make our contribution so that digitalization can unleash its full potential for more sustainable development.

We are laying the foundation for this with our investments: Each year, we invest more than five billion euros in Germany alone, especially in expanding our networks. At 455,000 kilometers, we already operate Germany's largest fiber-optic network. But our responsibility does not end with providing technical access alone. The key to equal participation of all in the knowledge and information society is media literacy – especially today, in times of fake news, filter bubbles, cyberbullying and hate comments. Hence, this is one of the focal points of our social commitment.

As optimistic as we are, we cannot ignore the fact that some people fear negative consequences of digitalization. For this reason, we're exploring the question of what corporate responsibility means in the digital age. Within our Group, this means above all strengthening our employees to handle change, realigning our skills and promoting lifelong learning. Moreover, we want to encourage social debate: via our Group’s "Digital Responsibility" portal and together with partners in the "Charter of Digital Networking " initiative. Last but not least, it is important to strengthen users' trust through consistent commitment to data security and data privacy.

Building bridges for a sustainable future is a matter of principle for me. With this in mind, I would like to reaffirm our commitment to the principles of the United Nations Global Compact and the German Sustainability Code.

Tim Höttges