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  • 2019 Corporate Responsibility Report

Our approach to protecting human rights

Our contribution to the SDGs

Deutsche Telekom has made an express commitment to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights published by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011. These principles require businesses to systematically identify the impact their operations have on human rights, and to prevent, mitigate or compensate these where necessary. In order to meet these requirements, we have developed an extensive program to implement the UN Guiding Principles and introduced an ongoing process comprised of several interconnected measures and tools (see diagram).

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Mission statement on human rights

The obligation to respect human rights, individual rights and freedom of opinion, to safeguard the right to collective agreements and to guarantee diversity and equal opportunity is anchored in the following basic policies of Deutsche Telekom:

How we handle human rights complaints:
We receive complaints about possible human rights violations at all times via the anonymous whistleblower portal “Tell me!” and our contact point for human rights, which has been in place since 2013. The contact point can be reached via the public email address A complete overview of contact options can also be found on the “Tell me!” portal. We look into all tip-offs and reports received and introduce countermeasures as soon as the information is identified as plausible. You can find out how we handled the reports we received in 2019 here. In addition, human rights aspects have also been integrated since 2013 into due diligence activities conducted in the context of mergers and acquisitions.

Analysis of human rights risks and their potential impact:
To review the potential impact of our business activities on human rights, we prepare a central Human Rights & Social Performance Report every year. In 2019, all 117 of the companies surveyed declared in this report that they comply with the Code of Human Rights & Social Principles. The report indicated no violations for 2019. 

Human rights and employee relations at our national companies:
We also introduce special evaluation processes as required to assess employer-employee relations in the national companies with which we implement our Employee Relations Policy. In this context, we also take into account the results provided by our Human Rights & Employee Relations Cockpit. 

This is a tool to measure progress at our national companies on the basis of five indicators pertaining to human rights:

  • Employee satisfaction (source: semi-annual pulse survey)
  • Willingness to recommend Deutsche Telekom as an employer (source: semi-annual pulse survey)
  • Health rate (source: HSE cockpit)
  • Number of employees giving notice (source: HSE cockpit)
  • Human rights risks at national companies (according to Maplecroft Human Rights Risk Index)

The respective national company is classified according to a traffic light system for each key figure. The results are then discussed with the regional managers at the national companies and measures like human rights impact assessments and employee relations policy reviews are arranged as necessary.

Ensuring the effectiveness and adherence of human rights in the supply chain:
We expressly require our suppliers to assume responsibility as a way of making sure human rights are also protected within our sphere of influence outside of our Group. To this end, we supplemented our sustainable procurement strategy with supplier management to improve our sustainability performance in our supply chain and ensure respect for human rights. Audits of our suppliers are one component, among others. Detailed results of our Group-wide auditing program are available here.

Raising awareness, training, stakeholder engagement, & networks:
To ensure that human rights are safeguarded in accordance with our principles and our Code of Human Rights, we offer all employees worldwide online training courses on the subject of human rights. These are supplemented by internal communication campaigns with information about important aspects of the issue, such as anti-discrimination.

We are also involved in numerous networks such as the Global Compact and Econsense. Together with other companies, policymakers, and civil society, we can draw attention to existing grievances and press ahead with solutions.