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  • 2019 Corporate Responsibility Report

Human rights concern us all

Human rights violations – things like that only happen a long way away, right? Even though we mainly hear about cases of child labor, human trafficking or dire working conditions in developing or low-wage countries, we in our Western democracies are not immune to human rights violations.

On our doorstep

Attacks on freedom of opinion, religion or assembly, discrimination against people who think or love differently: All that also happens right on our doorstep. Not only does each and every one of us have a duty to respect human rights –companies must also play their part. And there is a lot that they can do, whether it concerns health and safety at work, living wages, anti-discrimination or enforcing the ban on child and forced labor. In 2011, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights were adopted. They call on companies to systematically examine the impact of their business activities on human rights. In addition, companies should prevent, reduce or, where necessary, provide remediation for negative consequences. As an international company, we are committed to protecting human rights, within our company and beyond. We are expressly committed to the UN Guiding Principles and have developed a human rights program to meet the requirements.

SDG 8 - Decent work

These measures are our contribution to Sustainable Development Goal 8 of the United Nations Agenda 2030.

Commitment to protecting human rights

We have two guidelines that are applicable throughout the Group worldwide and define our commitment to the protection of human rights. Together, they form what can be understood as our constitution for human rights. First, we have our “Human Rights Code & Social Principles” statement. It is a guideline for all Deutsche Telekom employees, investors, customers, and suppliers. Among other things, the declaration includes a commitment to diversity and the prohibition of forced labor, human trafficking, modern slavery, and child labor. The second guideline regulates employee relations at Deutsche Telekom. This Group Policy on Employee Relations sets out eleven core elements describing what Deutsche Telekom stands for worldwide as an employer.

Contact point for complaints

We would ask anyone with any evidence suggesting violations of human rights, laws or Deutsche Telekom regulations at our company to report this to us. We investigate all reports and will initiate countermeasures if necessary. There are various points of contact:

Direct superiors

If our employees suspect a human rights problem, they can contact their direct superiors personally at any time.

Contact point for
human rights

The contact point is not just for our employees, but for anyone. It can be reached by email at

Whistleblower portal “Tell me!”

The „Tell me!“ portal gives external parties and employees the opportunity to report violations of laws and internal regulations – confidentiality is guaranteed.


Whether employees or external parties, sometimes people prefer to remain anonymous. We have a certified, anonymous web form for this purpose.

Analysis of human rights risks

We want to ensure that our guidelines for the protection of human rights are followed everywhere. We therefore formally review compliance with our Human Rights Code & Social Principles and our Group Policy on Employee Relations by evaluating our employee surveys. These determine, for instance, how satisfied employees are with us or how willing they are to recommend Deutsche Telekom as an employer. How great the general risk of human rights violations in the particular country is also plays an important role. We check this by means of a recognized international index (Maplecroft’s Human Rights Risk Index). We analyze the results together with the responsible local managers. If the results show that we need to make improvements in certain areas, we conduct detailed interviews with employees. This allows us to roll out targeted improvement measures. If necessary, we also carry out a human rights impact assessment, in which we survey not only our own employees, but also managers and employees of our suppliers, and we hold talks with NGOs. In 2019, we added workshops to our assessments. The goal is to provide our management and employees with additional training and information. We refer to the process as a whole as “Human Rights Impact Assessments and Engagement”.


Human rights and our suppliers

Antonio Veloso ensures decent working conditions at our suppliers and remedies shortcomings. Find out more here

Entrenched throughout the company

The protection of human rights plays an important role in all areas of the company: at Human Resources, of course, but also in Procurement, for example. Here we have to pay attention to the working conditions in which the products we acquire from our suppliers are produced. And in Marketing, we must ensure that our advertising messages do not discriminate or harm anyone. We have carried out an analysis to determine the areas in which the protection of human rights plays an important role for Deutsche Telekom. In addition, representatives from various company units regularly discuss current requirements for protecting human rights.

Transparency and communication

We annually publish our Group-wide Human Rights & Social Performance Report in which all Deutsche Telekom companies declare their compliance with the principles of our “Human Rights Code & Social Principles” policy statement. Any violations are presented transparently in the report.

Promoting awareness and network memberships

How important is the protection of human rights to Deutsche Telekom? What can our employees do to ensure that human rights are observed during everyday business? We provide an online training course on the subject of human rights that gives our employees answers to these and other questions. It is available worldwide and aims to raise awareness for human rights at the company. In addition, we regularly conduct internal communication campaigns related to human rights, for example, on anti-discrimination. To promote the protection of human rights worldwide, companies, politicians, and civil society must work together closely. We want to help highlight existing grievances and jointly develop viable solutions. That is why we are involved in various initiatives such as the German Global Compact Network and the Econsense company network.