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  • Act responsibly. Enable sustainability.
  • 2017 Corporate Responsibility Report
2017 Corporate Responsibility Report

Risk and opportunity management

For us, comprehensive risk and opportunity management also means considering the opportunities and risks arising from ecological or social aspects or from the management of our company. To this end, we actively and systematically involve all relevant stakeholders in the process of identifying current and potential risks and opportunities. We also participate in a number of working groups and committees. In parallel with our ongoing monitoring of ecological, social and governance issues, we systematically determine our stakeholders' positions on these issues. The key tools we use here are: our year-round open online materiality survey for all stakeholders; our bi-monthly NGO report, which systematically analyzes press publications of the NGOs relevant for us; our involvement in working groups and committees, countless national and international business associations, and social organizations, e.g., GeSI img, BID, Bitkom, Econsense, and BAGSO; stakeholder dialog formats organized by us, such as this year’s ICT img and Climate Stakeholder Day under the motto "The impact of ICT on climate change – curse or blessing"; and our various publications, such as the press reviews and newsletters.

We have identified the following as our main sustainability management issues:

Progress

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Reputation

How we deal with sustainability issues also entails both opportunities and risks for our reputation. A high level of service quality is one of the most important factors for improving customer perception. Customer satisfaction has been embedded in our Group management as a non-financial performance indicator to underline the importance of this issue. Transparency and reporting help to promote the trust of other external stakeholders in our Group. Our annual and CR reports also serve this purpose. However, issues such as business practices, data privacy and work standards in the supply chain and conduct in relation to human rights also entail reputation risks. If our brands, products or services are connected with such issues in negative media reports, this can cause substantial damage to our reputation. As part of our sustainability management activities, we continuously review such potential risks and take measures to minimize them. We also ascertain how our products and services make a positive contribution to sustainability in order to enhance our reputation.

Climate protection

We pursue an integrated climate strategy, which means focusing not only on the risks that climate change poses for us and our stakeholders, but also on the opportunities it presents. By 2030, ICT img products and services will have the potential to save up to ten times as much in CO2 emissions in other industries as the ICT sector itself generates (according to the GeSI img SMARTer2030 study). This creates an opportunity to save 20 percent of global CO2 emissions in 2030 and to keep worldwide emissions at 2015 levels with simultaneous economic growth. The additional revenue potential here amounts to 6.5 trillion US dollars, 2.0 trillion US dollars of which is for the ICT industry alone. Further, ICT solutions can save a total of 4.9 trillion US dollars in costs. To give a specific example: The broadband rollout in Germany has the potential to save an aggregate amount of 19 million metric tons of CO2 between 2012 and 2020. What's more, the economic momentum triggered by rolling out broadband can create an aggregate number of 162,000 new jobs and increase GDP by 47 billion euros between 2015 and 2020. We are supporting this trend by evaluating our product portfolio to identify sustainability benefits. In addition, we want to continuously improve the ratio of the emissions that our products and services save to those generated by our own value chain. In 2016, for example, we saved 33 percent more emissions in Germany than we produced.

Among the risks that climate change harbors, meteorological extremes are one we are already experiencing. This is having a direct effect on our stakeholders, e.g., our customers, suppliers, and employees. We can take preventive action in this area by reducing our own CO2 emissions, which is one of the reasons we set ourselves the goal of achieving a 20 percent reduction in our Group-wide emissions – leaving aside our United States operating segment – by 2020 (baseline: 2008). Climate protection also carries financial risks, whether from the introduction of a levy on CO2 emissions or an increase in energy costs. The measures we are taking to counter these risks include measuring our own energy efficiency and finding ways to improve it. Further, in 2016 four of our subsidiaries (Magyar Telekom in Hungary, OTE in Greece, T-Mobile Netherlands, and Hrvatski Telekom in Croatia) covered 100 percent of their electricity requirements with renewable energy, while a further two (T-Mobile Austria and T-Systems Netherlands) almost met this target, thus reducing climate risks.

Suppliers

We see more sustainability in our supply chain as an opportunity – for our reputation and our business success. Apart from the general risks associated with our global procurement activities, we can be exposed to country- and supplier-specific risks. These include, for example, the use of child labor, the conscious acceptance of environmental damage or inadequate local working and safety conditions. We reduce these risks by systematically reviewing our suppliers. Our partnerships with suppliers that comply with international sustainability standards ensure a high level of product quality and reliable procurement. We have a special development program in place to help strategic suppliers introduce business practices that are both socially and ecologically acceptable while remaining economically efficient. This program again showed measurable successes in the reporting period and has three major advantages: It has a positive impact on our suppliers’ working conditions, enhances their profitability, and makes the economic relevance of sustainability clear for both sides, i.e., for our suppliers and for the Group alike. For instance, better working conditions at our suppliers reduces the number of work-related accidents as well as the staff churn rate. That, in turn, ensures high product quality and increases productivity, while at the same time lowering costs for recruitment and training. Thus, not only are we strengthening our suppliers’ profitability and CR performance, we are also significantly reducing identified risks.

Health and the environment

Mobile communications, or the electromagnetic fields img used in mobile communications, regularly give rise to concerns among the general population about potential health risks. This issue continues to be the subject of public, political, and scientific debate. Acceptance problems among the general public concern both mobile communications networks and the use of mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. The discussion also has repercussions for the build-out of mobile communications infrastructure and the use of mobile devices. In the fixed network, it affects sales of traditional IP img and DECT img (digital cordless) phones and devices that use Wi-Fi technology. There is a risk of regulatory interventions, such as reduced thresholds for electromagnetic fields or the implementation of precautionary measures in mobile communications, e.g., amendments to building law or labeling requirements for handsets.

Over the past few years, recognized expert organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP img) have repeatedly reviewed the current thresholds for mobile communications and confirmed that – if these values are complied with – the use of mobile technology is safe based on current scientific knowledge. The expert organizations, currently the ICNIRP, regularly review the recommended thresholds on the basis of the latest scientific findings.

We are convinced that mobile communications technology is safe if specific threshold values are complied with. We are supported in this conviction by the assessment of the recognized bodies. Our responsible approach to this issue is manifested in our Group-wide EMF img Policy, with which we commit ourselves to more transparency, information, participation and financial support of independent mobile communications research, far beyond that which is stipulated by legal requirements. We aim to overcome uncertainty among the general public by pursuing an objective, scientifically well-founded and transparent information policy. We thus continue to see it as our duty to maintain our close and successful dialog with local authorities, over and above the statutory requirements. This also applies since our longstanding collaboration with municipalities to expand the mobile network was enshrined in law in 2013; previously, this collaboration was based on voluntary self-commitments by the network operators.