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  • 2019 Corporate Responsibility Report

Our process for identifying material CR topics

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. Although our material topics had undergone detailed analysis and then been validated in an internal workshop as recently as 2018, the topic weightings were readjusted for the present report. This process factored in changes in stakeholder expectations and current internal developments.

We have utilized the methodology of the Global e-Sustainability Initiative img (GeSI) to assess materiality since 2015. It covers 55 topics that are relevant for the ICT img industry, and places them into 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 and evaluating 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 considerably since 2018. Consequently, the results can no longer be classed as representative.  Nonetheless, to ensure external stakeholder requirements can still be factored into our materiality analysis, we also conducted a 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 on 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. The results of the stakeholder survey and the document analysis were then compared and finalized in an internal workshop attended by experts from various units. The table below sets out the criteria that determine whether or not a topic is highly relevant.

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
Highly influenced by 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 ICT has a big influence on it and Deutsche Telekom holds a leading industry position on the topic.

The 2019 document analysis shows our stakeholders now have considerably higher expectations regarding topics related to the environment and human rights. It is not just politicians and NGOs that have these expectations, but also the Fridays for Future movement, for example. We were acting in line with these requirements when, at the start of 2019, we adopted our climate target, which complies with the two-degree target. The study entitled “The State of Children’s Rights and Business 2019: From Promise to Practice” showed that our commitment to human rights – particularly as regards children – is on the right track. We secured second place in the “Telecommunications and Technology” category, scoring 9.4 out of 10 points.

Our document analysis also shows that the topics of water, waste, and the circular economy have fundamentally increased in relevance. In 2020, we will analyze whether and to which extent this affects the importance these topics hold for us. The document analysis shows that there had been either no changes or very limited changes to all the other topics.

We identified the material topics for this year’s CR reporting based on these findings. We presented the results of the analysis in a materiality matrix in accordance with the requirements of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

Inaluk Schaefer

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Inaluk Schaefer