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  • 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report

Strengthening our corporate culture, encouraging a speak-up culture

A compliance management system is only effective if it is actually implemented in everyday activities. This is why we started the Transparent Company Culture initiative in 2016 with the intention of encouraging integrity and a speak-up culture within our company. In the following year we launched a large-scale study on the culture of compliance at Deutsche Telekom. On the basis of the results, we put together a broad set of measures to encourage the speak-up culture at the company. We continued these measures in 2018.

The results of our study on the culture of compliance
In 2018 we conducted an online survey in which 29,000 employees from national and international Deutsche Telekom companies took part. The European School of Management and Technology (ESMT Berlin) and Hertie School of Governance were our research partners in this extensive study. The initiative was supported by an expert committee created specifically for this purpose. The committee was comprised of Deutsche Telekom employees as well as representatives from non-governmental organizations, the business and scientific communities and society.

The results are very positive overall. 97 percent of those surveyed are committed to Deutsche Telekom's rules and are not willing to act in an unethical manner. The vast majority stand by their own values and would not stray from them, even under pressure. A large proportion of those surveyed also state that they would report specific misconduct uncompromisingly. The strengths of the compliance culture include, among others, the clarity of the rules. One weakness that was identified was the lack of an open feedback culture. Some employees are wary about raising problems. Others have had a negative experience when doing so. Identified weaknesses were intensely discussed by the Board of Management and included in a set of measures for further strengthening the value-oriented compliance culture at the Group.

Current measures in 2018
One of these measures is the Speak-up Culture initiative. Employees should be encouraged to openly address grievances in critical situations, just as managers should be open to hearing these grievances. An environment should also be created wherein "critical minds" can voice their opinions. Both classroom and online courses are offered, nationally and internationally, to this end. We also want to reduce employees' inhibitions about addressing grievances and delicate issues. To foster that, we offer voluntary "Speak Up!" training courses for employees where we show them communication techniques that can be used in difficult situations.

As part of that, we staged special "Ethical Leadership" training courses with all members of the Board of Management and their management teams in 2018, with the goal of encouraging them to reflect on their own ethical conduct. We are also currently reviewing our recruiting processes so that ethical conduct will be taken into account more systematically in the future when new managers are hired.

We are currently preparing surveys of our employees, with the objective of enhancing our culture of communication even more purposefully on the basis of their feedback.