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Act responsibly. Enable sustainability.

Our approach to social responsibility

The digital revolution is changing almost every area of our lives. We want to help allow all people to shape these changes in a positive, active, and equal way. In short, we want everyone to #TAKEPART. That’s why, as part of our social commitment, we are also working on breaking down barriers to digital participation.

We believe there are three key factors for ensuring everyone can participate in our digital society on equal terms – technical access to fast networks, the affordability of equipment and services, and the ability to use digital media competently.

  • Access: We are continuously expanding our network to enable technical access.
  • Affordability: With different rates for every budget and our social rate, we are striving to make digital access affordable for everyone.
  • Ability/Competent use of digital media: Internet users should have positive experiences and suffer no harm online. Data security and data protection are top priorities for us. It is also important for everyone to use media in a competent, responsible, and critical manner, and in line with basic democratic values. We are therefore committed to media and democratic competence.

By focusing on promoting digital participation, our social commitment correlates closely with our core business. We consider ourselves responsible not only for our products and our network, but also for ensuring that people can interact with them confidently. This allows us to put our expertise as a telecommunications provider to the best possible use for the benefit of society.

As one of the major employers, part of our social responsibility in 2019 was to support refugees in their integration into the German labor market.

In carrying out our social commitment, we not only implement our own projects and initiatives, but also encourage the volunteer efforts of our employees. In addition, we provide financial support, for example, by being involved as a sponsor and providing support in the area of disaster response.

The national companies carry out independent regional initiatives. We also work closely across national borders when it comes to our social involvement and share experience and best practices. Close cooperation with social players such as NGOs, associations, and initiatives also plays an important role.

Measuring success
We use a set of KPIs to measure our success:

  • The Community Investment ESG KPI reflects our social commitment in terms of financial, human, and material resources.
  • The Beneficiaries ESG KPI measures the number of active contributors as well as the target groups they reach.
  • The Media Literacy ESG KPI highlights the percentage of projects and activities that help people use media proficiently. It is highly relevant to us, as it correlates closely with our core business.

Our measures are based on the Sustainable Development Goals img (SDGs) of the United Nations. We have listed the activities with which we are pursuing SDGs in an overview.

Promoting media literacy and democratic competence

We have made it our mission to promote the safe and competent use of digital media – and the ability to use them in line with basic democratic values. We are therefore advocating trust and opinion forming online through a variety of projects and initiatives. We also provide updates about the responsible and critical use of media on our Group website and in our sustainability magazine “We Care”.

Our focus for 2019 was “digital democracy”: What benefits does the digital world offer for political participation and opinion forming? Where is democracy threatened by what happens on the internet – for instance, through open or veiled populism, hate speech, fake news, and the manipulation of public opinion? In 2019, we reached many thousands of people with snackable content, discussion rounds, and workshops on the topic of “digital democracy,” at IFA in Berlin, for instance. We aim to raise awareness and highlight alternative courses of action, for example, on the question of how to identify fake news and how to apply this knowledge when using social media.

The Teachtoday initiative supports children, young people, parents, and grandparents as well as teaching professionals with hands-on tips and materials about safe, proficient media usage. It covers a wide range of issues from the areas of family, school, and recreation. The materials are available at in seven languages (German, English, Croatian, Montenegrin, Polish, Romanian, and Hungarian).

A media obstacle course also presents media use in a fun way. Topics such as play times, privacy, and cyberbullying are addressed at different stations.

Teachtoday also has its own YouTube channel with short catchy videos about safe, proficient internet use, data protection, and how truthful people are online. It includes interviews on children’s rights, conducted on World Children’s Day 2019.

The Scroller children’s media magazine is geared specifically to children aged nine to twelve to improve their media literacy. It is available in both an interactive web version and a free print format.

At the National Youth Conference “Medien 2019” in Rostock in March 2019, “Teachtoday” presented materials that media scouts can use in their schools. More than 300 “media scouts” took part: they are specially trained young people who advise their fellow students on how to use the internet. 

#TAKEPART Stories (#DABEI-Geschichten) is a Deutsche Telekom initiative that addresses socially relevant digitalization topics in a practical way and turns them into opportunities for disseminators. The initiative highlights potential for participation and responsible conduct on the internet and aims to encourage a critical discussion with these options. Our goal is to provide ideas for the responsible use of digital media and to promote them so that participation in the digital space can succeed. In this way, the initiative contributes to our #TAKEPART campaign.The material can be used for self-study, but is also suitable for disseminators working with learner groups. The team uses innovative, didactically effective formats to develop the material together with modern technologies in the form of modules. Ten modules are available in German and English, as well as in simple language. No matter how complex a topic is, we think it’s important to leave it up to the user to determine whether it’s important for them. We ensure appropriate linguistic and didactic preparation of the material.

At #TAKEPART Stories you will also find information about Digital Friendship and opinion making on the internet. In 2019 we published two new modules on the topics “Living in the city of the future” and “Digital democracy”.
Deutsche Telekom Stiftung's commitment
The Deutsche Telekom Stiftung is committed to better education in STEM img subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), with numerous programs and projects . It does so because it is convinced that a modern education system must give young people the best possible preparation for meeting global challenges such as digital transformation, climate change, electromobility, and biodiversity.

Deutsche Telekom Stiftung – fields of action

Annette Reuter

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Annette Reuter

Community Investment ESG KPI KPI

We report a set of three KPIs for calculating the impact of our social commitment. They comprise the Community Investment ESG img KPI, the Beneficiaries ESG KPI and the Media Literacy ESG KPI. Our activities are based on the methods employed by the London Benchmarking Group (LBG), which incorporate the aspects, "input," "output" and "impact".

The Community Investment ESG KPI illustrates activities in which Deutsche Telekom was involved in the community either financially, through its employees, or through donating materials.

Our ambition: increase KPI

The investment volume for our entire network infrastructure in 2019 was € 13.1 billion (with more than € 5.5 billion of this in Germany), and we are already providing LTE to 98 percent of the population in our national companies. What's more, we operate the largest fiber-optic network in Germany, with more than 500,000 kilometers of cables, and are driving the expansion of a large-scale NB-IoT infrastructure for the cities of the future. Thanks to the Internet rollout, our investments are making an important contribution to facilitating access to fast Internet for large sections of the public. This, in turn, is the foundation for the positive development of our business KPIs, e.g. the Media Literacy ESG KPI. Furthermore, our products and services are contributing to climate protection and resource efficiency. Our products range from ICT img solutions such as video conferencing and Industry 4.0 img to sustainable connected farming and Smart City concepts.

Additionally, the Community Investment ESG KPI makes an important contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals img. In 2019, more than 24 million euros of the community investments have contributed to the SDG 4 (quality education).

Beneficiaries and Media Literacy ESG KPIs KPI

The report comprises a set of three KPIs for calculating the impact of our social commitment. In addition to the Community Investment ESG KPI, we report the Beneficiaries and the Media Literacy ESG KPI img here. Our activities are based on the methods employed by the London Benchmarking Group (LBG), which incorporate the aspects, "input," "output" and "impact".

The Beneficiaries ESG KPI reflects the number of people who got involved in community activities and the number of people in the target group that participate in or benefited from such activities (e.g. media literacy trainings, DSL img connection in schools and crisis helpline).

Our ambition: increase KPI

The Media Literacy ESG KPI reflects the share of people we have reached through programs addressing this topic. This KPI establishes a direct correlation between these activities and our core business. The ESG KPI reached 41 percent by the end of 2019 and our aim is to achieve a share of 45 percent by 2020.

engagement@telekom KPI

Our contribution to the SDGs

We support the social commitment of our employees with our range of corporate volunteering opportunities. Through their commitment, they play a major role in strengthening social cohesion, broadening their own horizons, and boosting their social skills. This in turn has a positive impact on teamwork at the company. 

Our corporate citizenship program engagement@telekom pursues two aims – to support our employees’ current involvement and encourage them to find new ways to contribute to society. To that end, we give them opportunities to volunteer: they can get involved in a good cause on numerous Social Days, for example.

One focus is on projects that promote media literacy, where employees help people better understand digital phenomena, thus laying the groundwork for participation in the digital world. In 2019, employees also intensified their commitment to the environment. Among other things, they started their own activities as part of the Green Pioneers program which helps us reach our Group targets – for example, to reduce CO2 emissions.

Volunteer involvement is an important component of our training. That is why we organized a fundraising run this year focusing on the participant’s health as well as on the topic of “volunteer involvement”. The participants had the opportunity to have their type assessed for the national bone marrow registry of the DKMS (German "Deutsche KnochenMarkSpenderdatei" or "German Bone Marrow Donor File"). Moreover, by taking part in the run the participants supported the association Gesicht Zeigen! Für ein weltoffenes Deutschland e.V (“Show your face! For an open-minded Germany e.V”).


Joint commitment with partners

We have taken on the task of driving forward the social discussion on digital responsibility. To do this, we participate in various alliances and partnerships such as the “Corporate Digital Responsibility” initiative run by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. By signing the Charter of Digital Networking and through our involvement in its supporting association, we emphasize our commitment.

We have longstanding partnerships with many organizations, associations, and initiatives with whom we work as part of our social commitment, for example: 

Financial commitment and sponsorships

In Germany we are involved in the fields of sport, culture, and social issues. The national companies are also engaged in these areas. In addition to providing funding, we help artists, athletes, event organizers, and associations with their communication and marketing activities. The Sponsorship Policy provides the framework for sponsoring activities. Being involved in the regions where we are based is another important aspect. Examples of our involvement include:

  • Music sponsorship
  • Theater funding
  • Competitive sport sponsorship with partners such as the DFB (German Football Association), FC Bayern Munich, Telekom Baskets Bonn, and Deutsche Sporthilfe, DFB's Sepp Herberger Foundation, and the German National Paralympic Committee
  • Recreational sport sponsorship
  • Sponsorship of social activities associated with partnerships

Additional information on the sponsoring activities of Deutsche Telekom AG is available here.

Corporate giving
Through our corporate giving program, we support the work of aid organizations worldwide – preferably in the form of long-standing partnerships – and provide rapid assistance in disaster situations. Our Group Donation Policy lays out the guidelines for these activities.

Our approach to trustworthy interaction on the internet

Our contribution to the SDGs

The Initiative D21, Germany’s largest charitable network for the digital society, sponsored by Deutsche Telekom, and its Digital Index 2018/2019, confirmed that the degree of digitalization in Germany has continued to rise compared to last year. The index shows that the proportion of people outside the digital bubble has dropped by 4 percent since 2017. Over the same period, the group of people at the leading edge of digital progress has grown by three percent. Nonetheless, there are still major differences between various sections of the population. Having access to modern information technologies is the basis for the ability to participate in the knowledge and information society.

We are committed to ensuring that everyone, regardless of age, background or education, can participate in digital society. That is why we are continuing to rapidly expand our infrastructure and improve transmission speeds with new, secure technology. At the same time, we use our social initiatives to reduce potential obstacles to ICT img use. We develop our own offers and support partner initiatives with our expertise in this area. In doing so, we always set specific targets – whether for ourselves or in collaboration with our partners.

As we work toward giving as many people as possible the opportunity to participate in the digital world, we set the following focal points for our commitment:

Reliable partner in the digital world

Creating awareness
Supporting implementation
Strengthening skills
Creating awareness

 We have taken on the task of driving forward the social discussion on digital responsibility. To do this, we participate in various alliances and partnerships such as the “Corporate Digital Responsibility” initiative run by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. We also want to work with our stakeholders to continue developing our guidelines for working responsibly with artificial intelligence, which we published in 2018. We emphasize our commitment as a member of the Charter of Digital Networking.

If the digitalization process is to succeed, it is vital that people have faith in the confidentiality of their personal data. Data protection and data security are top priorities for us. However, handling personal data with due care and attention is also an important element. We promote this approach through our online advice portal and a focus topic in our sustainability magazine “We Care”, for example. In addition, our website “Media, sure! But secure.” pools various initiatives with the aim of promoting responsible and critical interaction with media and to thereby improve participation of people in the digital world.In addition, we revised our Social Media principles in 2019 supporting our goal to ensure a respectful and appreciative dialogue both within the company and outside, as well as a communication culture that reflects this.

Supporting implementation

With our expertise, we support projects and initiatives that offer digital solutions for social challenges:

  • As part of our corporate volunteering activities, our employees participate in a wide range of projects. Additional information can be found here.
  • We are making a contribution to dementia research through the virtual reality game “Sea Hero Quest VR”.
  • We are supporting external initiatives, for instance through our membership of the association Deutschland sicher im Netz e.V. (DSiN – Making Germany Safe on the Net), which serves as a central point of contact for IT security and data protection issues.
  • As part of the “Telekom@School” initiative, we offer free broadband connections to schools throughout Germany in order to further improve access to modern information technologies. This gives children and young people the opportunity to learn how to use digital media irrespective of their family background.
  • We also offer special rates to enable low-income customers and people with disabilities to make phone calls and surf the web at reasonable prices. More than one million customers in Germany take advantage of these special plans each year.
Strengthening skills

“Teachtoday” is part of our initiative “Media, sure! But secure.” focused on promoting safe, proficient media use for children and young people, parents and teaching professionals and offers practical and everyday tips and materials. One example is the free children’s magazine “Scroller”. The children’s media magazine published by Deutsche Telekom’s Teachtoday initiative addresses important issues related to learning with digital media and encourages children to help shape the digital world themselves.

Our commitment also encompasses the following:

  • Code+Design Camps”: Young people attending these camps – who may or may not have any prior experience with programming – get to know new technologies and develop their skills under the guidance of professional mentors.
  • We support the Digitale Nachbarschaft (Digital Neighborhood) project, which trains people to volunteer as IT ambassadors.
  • We are involved in the Digital-Kompass (Digital Compass), which offers the association safe, straightforward, and free help to take advantage of digital opportunities. Workshops, manuals, webinars, and tutorials are offered.
  • In partnership with BAGSO, the German National Association of Senior Citizens’ Organizations), we promote media literacy among older people and also support the “Goldener Internetpreis” (Golden Internet Award) for competent internet users age 60 and up.
  • Along with four other foundations, the Deutsche Telekom Stiftung fosters the education and digitalization forum “Forum Bildung Digitalisierung” that aims to improve education and equal opportunities using digital media.
  • With #DABEI-Geschichten (#TAKEPART Stories), Deutsche Telekom invites users to address issues from the digital world in order to better understand them: from digital democracy and digital friendship to data protection and security – easy to understand, innovative, and full of tips! Suggestions and tips are offered for those working with learning groups. Documents are also available in simple language.

The Deutsche Telekom Stiftung carries out numerous initiatives and projects that cover the full range of institutional education and utilize countless activities and programs to boost achievement in STEM img subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

For more information, please click on the segments

Refugee aid: integration into work, integration into society KPI

Our contribution to the SDGs

Deutsche Telekom’s commitment to refugees started in 2015 as a humanitarian aid task force with the following measures:

  • Free Wi-Fi hotspots img in first aid facilities
  • Deutsche Telekom buildings provided for use by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees
  • Deployment of staff at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees
  • Support for private volunteer work by employees

In 2016, the first-aid initiative developed into the “Deutsche Telekom helps refugees” project, which aims to integrate refugees into the labor market.

Promoting long-term integration
In 2019, 450 positions were filled with refugees at Deutsche Telekom and partner companies – in the form of internships, as part of a training program, in the “Internship PLUS Direct Entry” program, or in permanent positions.

56 refugees who have previously completed a program at Deutsche Telekom were able to take up subsequent employment at Deutsche Telekom or a partner company of Deutsche Telekom. They will have, for example, switched to vocational training or a cooperative study program following an internship, or entered into permanent employment after their training.

In 2019, the first participants also successfully completed the "Internship PLUS Direct Entry" program. More than 70 percent of them switched to long-term follow-up employment. “Internship PLUS direct entry” is a program that was launched by Deutsche Telekom in 2016 in cooperation with the Federal Employment Agency, Deutsche Post DHL Group, and Henkel. A three to six-month orientation phase was followed by a two-year employment contract. In 2018, we continued and further developed the program for Deutsche Telekom. We created new jobs in areas with an especially high demand for staff, such as technical and customer service. The program will continue to run until 2021. In 2018, we received the “HR Excellence Award” for the “Internship PLUS direct entry” program for innovative flagship projects in human resources management in the Group Corporate Social Responsibility category.

We also created internship positions for refugees in 2019 with the aim of providing them with their first step into the German working world. Many of these positions were awarded through applicant days, at which the focus was on getting to know each other, not on querying prior experience or looking at certificates.

In 2019, Deutsche Telekom again supported its employees in their volunteer refugee work, for example, in cooperation with Volunteer Vision in the eStart program. At the end of the year, 150 Deutsche Telekom employees acted as language tutors to help refugees learn German.

Over the last few years, we have gained a lot of experience in integrating refugees into the labor market. This has been incorporated into our standard HR procedures, helping to create a sustainable basis for integrating refugees into our company. At the end of 2019, we were able to stop using the special processes created to integrate refugees.

Information about Germany: Handbook Germany
Refugees and anyone new to Germany can find information about living, studying, and working in the Handbook Germany. The handbook emerged from the refugee portal we launched in 2015 in collaboration with the Federal Chancellery, Adobe, and Neue Deutsche Medienmacher (New German Media Professionals). Information is currently offered in seven languages, with Pashto (spoken in Afghanistan/Pakistan), French, and Turkish alongside German, Arabic, English, and Farsi. Deutsche Telekom supports the site’s editing team in its capacity as technology partner. Handbook Germany was distinguished once again in 2019, this time with the "Smart Hero Award" in the Diversity and Equal Opportunity category awarded by the foundation “Stiftung Digitale Chancen”.

Barbara Costanzo

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Barbara Costanzo