Deutsche Telekom has made an express commitment to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights published by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011. These principles require businesses to systematically identify the impact their operations have on human rights, and to prevent, mitigate or compensate these where necessary. In order to meet these requirements, we have developed an extensive program to implement the UN Guiding Principles and introduced an ongoing process comprised of several interconnected measures and tools (see diagram).
The obligation to respect human rights, including personal rights and freedom of opinion, is anchored in Deutsche Telekom’s basic policies, our Guiding Principles and the Code of Human Rights & Social Principles. Deutsche Telekom’s Employee Relations Policy and its Diversity Policy are also important in this context.
Tools for assessing potential impact on human rights
We use two tools in particular to assess our Code of Human Rights & Social Principles. First, every year we prepare a central Human Rights & Social Performance Report: In the 2018 report, all 120 companies surveyed confirmed that they comply with the principles of the Code of Human Rights & Social Principles. The report indicated no violations for 2018. Second, in 2013 we established a central point of contact for human rights issues. This contact point can be reached via various channels, for example the public e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org. Tip-offs can be reported via the anonymous whistleblower portal without providing any sender information. All relevant contact information can be found on our whistleblower portal “Tell me!”. We look into all tip-offs and reports received and introduce countermeasures as soon as the information is identified as plausible. You can find out how we handled the reports we received in 2018 here. In addition, since 2013 we have integrated human rights aspects in due diligence activities conducted in the context of mergers and acquisitions.
Based on need, we also introduce special evaluation processes to assess employer-employee relations in the national companies with which we implement our Employee Relations Policy. In this context, we also take into account the results provided by our Human Rights & Employee Relations Cockpit. This is a tool to measure progress at our national companies on the basis of five indicators pertaining to human rights:
Our national companies are classified according to a traffic-light system for their results in each indicator: green (requirements met), yellow (requirements partially met) and red (requirements not met). The results are then discussed with the regional managers at the national companies and measures such as human rights impact assessments and employee relations policy reviews are arranged as necessary.
Human rights in the supply chain
We expressly require our suppliers to assume responsibility as a way of making sure human rights are also protected outside of our Group. To this end, we supplemented our sustainable procurement strategy with supplier management to improve our sustainability performance in our supply chain and ensure respect for human rights. The detailed results of our Group-wide auditing program are available here.
In 2017, we revised our Social Charter and renamed it Code of Human Rights & Social Principles, which was adopted by the Board of Management in November 2017. This update underscores our commitment to protecting human rights and to the goals of the German National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights adopted by the Federal Government in 2016. There were only some minor content changes. Among other things, a statement was incorporated summoning all employees to respect and promote human rights and social principles. We also changed some of the wording. The human rights principles are now mentioned more explicitly, and our existing processes and strategies explained in more detail. The reason for the revision was primarily the increased expectations of governments, NGOs and other stakeholders. In 2018, we announced the Code of Human Rights & Social Principles in all companies Group-wide and carried out a communication cascade.
Additionally, the Code of Human Rights & Social Principles is our commitment to complying with the guidelines and the Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy issued by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD ), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as with the UN Guidelines for Business and Human Rights and the UN Global Compact.
We established a contact point for human rights at Deutsche Telekom in 2013. Between January 1 and December 31, 2018, the contact point received nine reports related to human rights, submitted either directly to the contact point or through the (anonymous) whistleblower portal. Not all of these tip-offs were deemed plausible. Most of the inquiries and reports related to the topic of "compliance and verification of human rights at Deutsche Telekom". A few reports related to the topic of ongoing professional education. We also received several fundraising and support questions, which we forwarded to the appropriate departments. Of course, all reports were treated as confidential.