Telekom Logo
Act responsibly. Enable sustainability.

Our approach to protecting human rights

Our contribution to the SDGs

Deutsche Telekom has made an explicit commitment to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights published by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011. These guiding principles require that we systematically identify the impact our operations have on human rights, and prevent, mitigate or compensate these negative impacts where necessary. In order to meet these requirements, we have developed an extensive program for the entire Group: We implement the UN Guiding Principles in an ongoing process that includes several interconnected measures and tools (see diagram).

img img

Mission statement on human rights

In several basic policies, Deutsche Telekom commits itself to respecting human rights, individual rights and freedom of opinion – and to safeguarding the right to collective agreements and to guaranteeing diversity and equal opportunity:

Dealing with complaints on possible human rights violations

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 2020 here. In addition, we have also taken account of human rights aspects since 2013 in 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 2020, all 121 of the companies surveyed declared in this report that they comply with the principles of the Code of Human Rights & Social Principles. The report indicated no violations for 2020.

Human rights and employee relations at our national companies

As needed, we also introduce special evaluation processes to assess employer-employee relations in the national companies. This is how we monitor implementation of the Group’s Employee Relations Policy. In this context, we also take into account the results provided by our Human Rights & Employee Relations Cockpit.
We use this cockpit 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: Health, Safety, Environment - HSE - cockpit)
  • Number of employees giving notice (source: HSE cockpit)
  • Country-specific human rights risks (according to “Human Rights Risk Index” from Maplecroft)

Based on each indicator, we classify the respective national company according to a traffic light system. The results are then discussed with the regional managers of the respective national company; if necessary, measures are agreed – such as “Human Rights Impact Assessments” (procedures that assess the actual and potential impact of corporate actions on human rights) or "Employee Relations Policy Reviews" (review of the Group policy on employer-employee relations).

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 in our sphere of influence outside of the Deutsche Telekom Group. To this end, we supplemented our sustainable procurement strategy with supplier management to improve sustainability performance in our supply chain and ensure respect for human rights. This also includes audits of our suppliers. Detailed results of our Group-wide auditing program are available here.

Raising awareness, training, stakeholder engagement, and networks

To ensure that human rights are safeguarded in accordance with our Guiding Principles and our Human Rights Code, we offer all employees worldwide online training courses on the subject. We also use internal communication campaigns to provide information on important aspects of human rights, such as the aspect of 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.

Reporting against standards


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

  • GRI 412-1 (Human Rights Assessment)

Code of Human Rights & Social Principles

The protection of human rights is firmly anchored at Deutsche Telekom. In 2017 we revised our Social Charter img and renamed it our “Human Rights Code & Social Principles”. This was adopted by the Board of Management in 2017. This underscored our commitment to the goals of the German National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights adopted by the Federal Government in 2016.

Our Code of Human Rights & Social Principles also represents our commitment to

  • the guidelines and declaration of principles for Multinational Enterprises of the International Labour Organization (ILO img),
  • the Convention of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD img),
  • the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and
  • the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the United Nations Global Compact.
  • UN Code of Conduct against LGBTI img discrimination for companies

We are also committed to respecting human rights in our business principles, our Supplier Code of Conduct, the AI guidelines and in our “Manifesto on the New Ways of Working” as part of our Code of Human Rights & Social Principles .

Reporting against standards


Global Compact

  • Principle 1 (Support and respect for internationally proclaimed human rights)

Reports and inquiries regarding human rights

Between January 1 and December 31, 2020, we received nine reports related to human rights through our contact point for human rights or via the “Tell me!” whistleblower portal.

  • The inquiries and tip-offs related to topics such as discrimination, bullying, and management conduct.
  • We also received several fundraising and support questions, which we forwarded to the appropriate departments.
  • Of course, all reports were treated as confidential.
Reporting against standards


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

  • GRI 406-1 (Non-discrimination)

Human Rights and Social Performance Report KPI

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 and has anchored these principles in its Code of Human Rights & Social Principles.

Social Performance Report
To review possible impacts on human rights, we have operated a central Contact Point for Human Rights since 2013, and we prepare a Social Performance Report each year. In 2020 all 121 fully consolidated companies of Deutsche Telekom state whether they comply with the principles of the Code of Human Rights & Social Principles. The report again shows no violations of our Social Charter img for January to December 2020.

Whistleblower Portal
Whistleblower portal 'Tell me!': 8 tip-offs relating to human rights issues in 2020.

Assessments & Review

  • A Human Rights Impact Assessment in 2020 (Identification of further Group-wide challenges in the area of human rights, which necessitate adjustments to individual policies and communication measures. We will take measures in this regard by the end of 2021.): DT Group
  • An 'Employee Relations Policy' review in 2020: Crnogorski Telekom in Montenegro

The Human Rights & Employee Relations Policy Cockpit is also used to measure impacts on human rights. To this end, the national companies collect data related to five human rights indicators and evaluate them according to a traffic light system.

  Data assured by PwC. 

Reporting against standards


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

  • GRI 406-1 (Non-discrimination)
  • GRI 412-1 (Human Rights Assessment)

German Sustainability Code

  • Criterion 17 (Human Rights)

Global Compact

  • Principle 1 (Support and respect for internationally proclaimed human rights)
  • Principle 2 (No complicity in human rights abuses)

European Federation of Financial Analysts Societies (EFFAS)

  • S07-02 (Percentage of total facilities certificated according to SA 8000 standard)
Yvonne Hommes

Do you have questions on this topic?
Ask our expert:

Yvonne Hommes