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  • 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report
2018 Corporate Responsibility Report

Materiality & Added Value

Which sustainability topics are relevant for our revenue development, capacity for innovation and reputation? In what areas and in what ways do our business operations impact society and the environment? Which topics matter to our stakeholders, e.g., our shareholders, customers and employees, as well as the public – and how do they rate our services? We need to know the answers to these questions if we want to be successful in financial and ecological terms as well as in the eyes of society, which is why our materiality process also takes into account the expectations and interests of our stakeholders.

Business activities and organization

With 178 million mobile customers, around 28 million fixed-network lines and around 20 million broadband customers, we are one of the leading integrated telecommunications companies worldwide. We offer our consumers fixed-network/broadband, mobile, internet, and internet-based TV products and services, as well as ICT img solutions for our business and corporate customers. We have an international focus and are represented in more than 50 countries. With a staff of some 215,675 employees throughout the world (December 31, 2018), we generated revenue of 75.7 billion euros in the 2018 financial year, around 68 percent of it outside Germany.

We believe that economic, social, and ecological aspects can be reconciled; sustainability is the guiding principle behind all our actions. A range of sector-specific and general conditions are crucial to our success: These include first-rate quality at reasonable costs, and the highest standards in data privacy and ‑security, customer service, and network expansion. Just as crucial are competent employees and good working conditions both within the Group and at our suppliers. It is also important to consider the potential consequences of climate change for our business activities, for example, to construct our network infrastructure in such a way that it is protected from severe weather conditions, changes in temperatures and high wind speeds. Our customers expect innovative products and services that help them reduce their carbon footprint, among other things. Furthermore – despite the rapid growth in data traffic and the network development this requires – we want to reduce our own CO2 emissions Group-wide. Another important aspect: Even beyond our core business, we want to be a trustworthy companion in a world that is becoming increasingly complex. For us, this means conducting ourselves in a way that is ethical and compliant with the law and informing and involving our stakeholders in a transparent way.

You can find additional information on our business development in the 2018 Annual Report.

As illustrated in the diagram, our Group consists of five operating segments.

The organizational structure at a glance

We strive to make an effective contribution to sustainable development along all parts of our supply chain.

Simplified illustration of Deutsche Telekom’s supply chain

Material sustainability topics: systematic process

We systematically identify which topics are of particular importance in defining Deutsche Telekom's sustainability management and sustainability reporting focus from the perspective of our stakeholders as well as from an internal corporate perspective. The materiality analysis is based on experience from previous years and incorporates current developments. In 2018 we expanded the materiality process to include a document analysis.

We have utilized the methodology of the Global e-Sustainability Initiative img (GeSI img) since 2015. The methodology covers 55 topics that are relevant for the ICT img industry, and places them in nine categories: digital inclusion, employee relationships, climate change, circular economy, sourcing and manufacturing, customer relationships, freedom of expression and privacy, governance and management, and local community and environment impacts. These topics have been developed to pertain to a variety of companies and are therefore recognized in the industry

Identifying material topics
In order to determine our stakeholders’ expectations of  our sustainability management, we have used an online survey since 2014. In this survey, our stakeholders can rate topics according to their importance and assess our performance in the different areas. However, willingness to participate in the survey has declined. In 2017, 218 people took the survey; in 2018, it was only 24. In order to still obtain representative feedback, we conducted an additional document analysis in 2018. This took into account legal texts, studies, position papers and media publications that provide information about the demands and expectations made of Deutsche Telekom with regard to sustainability management. The analysis also considered whether Deutsche Telekom has any influence on the respective topic and whether the expectations have an impact on Deutsche Telekom’s business activity. You can see in the following tables when a topic is assigned high relevance.

Stakeholder perspective
High expectations for the relevant topic when …


…the majority of NGOs express specific expectations or demand compliance with certain targets or standards.


…multiple competitors actively communicate a more ambitious strategic objective or development concepts.


…there are concrete regulatory objectives, laws or guidelines that directly impact the company.

Financial market …the topic is part of the criteria for the ratings in question and is considered a top issue in the industry.
Company perspective
High expectations for the relevant topic when …
Value creation

…all stages of the value chain are affected by the topic.

Sustainable Development Goals

…the topic is directly related to several SDGs.

Industry …the industry is considered a major contributor and Deutsche Telekom holds a leading industry position on the topic.

In an internal workshop with experts from various departments, we compared the results of this document analysis and the current stakeholder survey with the results of our materiality process from the previous year. We also reviewed whether there was any change in the weighting for a topic from an internal perspective. To ensure that all of the topics are being addressed in full, interviews with other experts were conducted in the run-up to the workshops. The results of these interviews have been added to the workshop results.

We then used them as the basis for defining the material topics for our CR reporting. We presented the results of the analysis in a materiality matrix in accordance with the requirements of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

Evaluating our sustainability performance
In connection with our survey, stakeholders also evaluated our sustainability performance – with the following result: Our stakeholders gave the major topics of service quality, data security and cyber security a good performance rating. In contrast, they see potential for improvement in the topics of EMF img, and ICT and gender (as of December 2018).

Inaluk Schaefer

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Inaluk Schaefer

Results of the materiality analysis

Topics were rated as “very relevant,” “relevant,” “less relevant” and “not relevant” in the materiality analysis. We translate their weighting results onto a 100-point scale. Here are the results of the analysis.

The overall result
The following illustration shows how all of the topics were rated by our stakeholders and from a corporate perspective on a scale of 0 to 100.

Materiality Matrix

All Subjects for 2018

Top topics for Deutschen Telekom's sustainable business development
We consider all topics that achieved more than 70 points on average in the materiality process to be top topics. They are presented on a scale of 60 to 100 below.

Materiality Matrix of Deutschen Telekom

Top-Subjects for 2018 (excerpt)

Material aspects matched with GRI aspects

The following overview indicates which GRI aspects can be matched with the material areas of the stakeholder survey.

# Material aspects    GRI aspects    Management approach
1 Data security  
  • Customer privacy
2 Data privacy  
  • Customer privacy
3 Network expansion  
  • Indirect economic impacts
4 Service quality  
  • Stakeholder engagement
5 Cyber security  
  • Customer privacy
5 Talent acquisition, employee retention, development and staff reduction  
  • Training and further education
  • Employment
5 Digitalization and the world of work  
  • Training and further education
  • Employment
8 ICT img solutions for a low-carbon economy  
  • Products and services
9 Climate change mitigation  
  • Emissions
  • Energy
9 Electronic waste  
  • Effluents and waste
11 Employee involvement  
  • Labor/management relations
  • Freedom of association and collective bargaining
12 Supply chain labor standards  
  • Procurement practices
  • Forced or compulsory labor
  • Supplier human rights assessment

Media literacy (incl. ICT and child safety)

  • Customer health and safety
14 Employee diversity and anti-discrimination  
  • Non-discrimination
  • Diversity and equal opportunities
15 Ethical business practices and compliance  
  • Socioeconomic compliance
  • Anti-corruption
16 Employee health, safety and wellness  
  • Occupational health and safety

Socially relevant application of ICT products and services

  • Products and services
17 Transparency and reporting  
  • Identified material aspects and boundaries
  • Report profile