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  • 2019 Corporate Responsibility Report

Global products …

Apples from the weekly market, potatoes from the farm shop: Consumers who want to shop more sustainably turn to regional products. But what works with food isn’t possible with smartphones and other technical devices. The components come from different parts of the world and have to be transported over long distances and further processed.



Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all – that is Sustainable Development Goal 8 of the United Nations.

... global

Raw materials and other material go through many hands before they finally wind up as a finished mobile phone, tablet or WiFi router on our shelves. Given the news about human rights violations and environmental problems it is very difficult to buy them with a clear conscience. At Deutsche Telekom, we do not turn a blind eye to this – but rather take a very close look. We do not manufacture smartphones and the like ourselves, but buy them from more than 30,000 suppliers in 80 countries. That’s one more reason for us to work consistently on making our supply chain increasingly sustainable. That’s no easy task, which is why we approach it systematically: Our sustainability requirements play an important role right from the time we select new suppliers. Later on during the collaboration, if necessary, we conduct factory inspections, or “social audits”. We work closely with strategically important suppliers to achieve concrete improvements in their factories, for instance, by reducing the number of overtime hours employees work or by implementing additional environmental protection measures.

Trust and control

Respect for human rights and protection of the environment are very important at Deutsche Telekom. We expect all of our suppliers and partners to comply with our high standards. To that end, we have introduced the following guidelines and instruments, among others:

Supplier Code of Conduct

Our Supplier Code of Conduct must be accepted by all suppliers. It contains ethical, social and ecological standards and fundamental human rights.

Supplier training

We train our suppliers online by means of a compliance course on topics such as corruption prevention, anti-trust law and sustainability.

Internal guidelines

The Procurement Policy that includes our Supplier Code of Conduct serves as a standard for our procurement staff. It specifies all of the main sustainability principles for our suppliers – from anti-corruption to environmental requirements.

Employee training

Employees in Procurement are trained in sustainability. In addition, we have a manual with practical recommendations for sustainability in procurement.

Measuring success

We measure our progress by means of various key performance indicators – such as the share of our suppliers whose compliance with social and environmental criteria has been verified.

Three steps to a sustainable supply chain

We obtain products from more than 30,000 diverse suppliers throughout the world. The risk level is determined by our strict sustainability criteria and depends, among other things, on the type of product and the producing country. Before commencing a business relationship, new suppliers must register first in our supplier portal. During this process they receive comprehensive information about our essential sustainability, compliance and anti-corruption requirements. This way we emphasize the high relevance of these topics for a business relationship from the start.

Step 1: Supplier selection

The first step in supplier management is supplier acceptance of the Supplier Code of Conduct. This is an important component of our supplier selection. In addition, this first step calls for all new suppliers to be assessed by an external auditor. A comprehensive investigation is performed to determine if any of our suppliers present increased risks with regard to compliance with our sustainability principles.


suppliers have been evaluated through our factory inspections since 2010. Based on the findings, we have initiated 3,975 improvement measures.

Step 2: Risk
management and control

We conduct more detailed checks for suppliers that present a higher risk. This includes looking at how the supplier was evaluated on the „EcoVadis”  img online platform. For some suppliers, we also conduct on-site audits, referred to as social audits. We look not only at our direct suppliers, but also at our suppliers’ sub-suppliers as much as possible. In order to gain more transparency in our supply chain and to minimize possible risks, we work closely with other companies that source goods from mutual suppliers. To that end, we have joined with 17 other telecommunications companies to form the Joint Audit Cooperation (JAC). Since 2010, we have carried out 584 audits and 3,975 improvement measures within the framework of the JAC. Some 1.3 million employees have benefited from the improvements achieved.


18 percent growth in workplace satisfaction among employees of a supplier taking part in our development program in 2019.

Stage 3:

While regular on-site inspections are important, they are often only snapshots. Our goal is to not just to combat the symptoms, but to bring about permanent changes, which is why we launched a supplier development program several years ago. In close cooperation with strategically important suppliers, we are working on specific improvements, such as in environmental protection, working hours regulations, living conditions in the worker’s quarters and occupational health and safety. Improvement plans are developed together with the factory management and employees. If necessary, we conduct additional workshops on current problems and issues, such as reducing CO2 emissions, extending the life span of products, or avoiding the use of hazardous substances. The program takes a long-term, sustained approach to improvement.

Achieving more together

Can our customers be sure that our products are 100 percent sustainable? Unfortunately not. But they can trust that we are doing everything possible to make our supply chain increasingly sustainable. And they can help us do this, by preferring to purchase products from our portfolio that are labeled as having sustainability benefits.