Our approach to social responsibility
In focus: Driving digital participation
With more and more areas of life now digital, interacting online has become part of everyday life for most people, making digital participation an important element of participating in society. We at Deutsche Telekom want everyone to #TAKEPART. That’s why, as part of our social commitment, we are working on enabling digital participation.
In an equitable, digital society, everyone has access to the necessary technology and digital offerings – regardless of their age, disability or non-disability, education, income, or where they live. That means everyone can benefit from the diverse opportunities offered by the internet for education, work, networking, and culture. It should be possible to consciously decide to opt out of digital participation – and not due to a lack of finance or know-how, for example.
We believe there are three crucial factors that allow people to participate equally in the digital society: technical access to fast networks, the affordability of equipment and services, and the ability to use digital media competently.
- Access: We are continuously expanding our network to enable technical access.
- Affordability: With different rates for every budget and our subsidizedl rate we are striving to make digital access affordable for everyone. More than one million customers in Germany take advantage of these special plans each year.
- Ability/Competent use of digital media: We help people to use media in a competent, responsible, and critical manner, and in line with basic democratic values. In the reporting year, we therefore devoted special attention to the issue of online civil courage;
but we also believe that digital participation requires the willingness to act responsibly online. Because in the spirit of our #TAKEPART promise, we not only stand for access to the internet, but are also committed to diversity, tolerance, and enjoyment in interpersonal interaction.
Our brand promise is “We help society take part in digitalization.” Since 2020, digital participation has also been anchored in our Group strategy. It states, “To live responsibility means enabling digital participation, intensifying the willingness to change, meeting our climate targets.” It also highlights how closely our social commitment is linked to our core business: We have a sense of responsibility not only for our products and our network, but also for ensuring that people know how to use them properly. This allows us to put our expertise as a telecommunications provider to the best possible use for the benefit of society. Our commitment to fair and equitable digital participation also plays an important role in our positioning as an attractive employer.
Volunteer work, sponsorship and international networking
In carrying out our social commitment, we not only implement our own projects and initiatives, but also encourage the volunteer efforts of our employees. In addition, we provide financial support, for example, by being involved as a sponsor and supporting projects and non-profit organizations that work for better coexistence and against exclusion.
Our national companies carry out independent regional initiatives. We also work closely across national borders when it comes to our social involvement and share experience and best practices. Close cooperation with social players such as NGOs, associations, and initiatives also plays an important role.
We use a set of KPIs to measure our success:
- The Community Investment ESG KPI reflects our social commitment in terms of financial, human, and material resources.
- The Beneficiaries ESG KPI measures the number of active contributors as well as the target groups they reach.
- The Media Literacy ESG KPI highlights the percentage of projects and activities that help people use media proficiently. It is highly relevant to us, as it correlates closely with our core business.
Our measures are also based on the Sustainable Development Goalsoverview.(SDGs) of the United Nations. We have listed the activities with which we are pursuing SDGs in an
Promoting media literacy and democratic competence
2020 opened our eyes to how important the internet has become in our everyday lives: During the coronavirus pandemic, many people found the internet was the only way to communicate with friends and family, to work or attend school from home, or shop. But digital communication also has its downsides: the unchecked spread of fake news and conspiracy theories, as well as the growing hate that many people face online.
For us, media literacy is the key to safe and competent use of digital media. At the same time, we believe that media literacy alone is not enough for peaceful and respectful coexistence in the digital world. For us, media and democratic literacy are inextricably linked. We therefore work to promote opinion-forming and trust, and to combat exclusion and hate speech online through a wide range of projects and initiatives
Action for no hate speech online
In the summer of 2020, we launched our #nohatespeech (#gegenhassimnetz) campaign. Its aim is to set an example and fight for an internet where everyone can #TAKEPART without fear. We also support initiatives that systematically tackle digital exclusion and thereby contribute to improving the situation of as many people as possible. We cooperate with 44 organizations and NGOs that are dedicated to the same goal. With our own measures in connection with online civil courage, we also call on society to support us in this commitment.
In cooperation with Facebook, we installed a Messenger bot in November 2020 to provide more specific help to those affected by hate speech. The bot lets you find the right contact point with just a few clicks – no matter whether you need help directly or want to take action against online hate yourself. Depending on the personal situation, you will be transferred to Juuuport, Nummer gegen Kummer or #ichbinhier, contacts offering advice in conflict and crisis situations.
Promoting online civil courage
In the reporting year, our media literacy initiatives were focused on the topic of online civil courage. How can civil courage work on the internet? What steps can each of us take, and what is already being done to combat hate speech and fake news online? Is counterspeech on the internet effective in making dialog more constructive? And: What role do bots and algorithms play in promoting filter bubbles and the vast reach of hate speech and fake news? We have produced educational material on these topics for target groups aged from 9 to 99.
In 2020, we reached around 18,000 people with snackable content, discussion rounds, and workshops on the topic of online civil courage. In addition, we develop and offer online materials to opinion leaders, which they can use free of charge and without registering. Through these opinion leaders, we were able to reach many more people from all target groups. These numbers are not included in our count.
An example of one of our digital participation initiatives is Magenta Moon. Under the motto “Discover something new”, participants could experience digital education for all from October 17 to November 1, 2020 – online and on site at Leipziger Platz in Berlin.
Its aim was to teach media skills in a playful way. In addition, the initiative developed new ideas and approaches to topics such as digital responsibility, sustainability, and innovation in workshops, talks, and interactive performances. With its varied program, Magenta Moon enabled digital education with equal opportunity for all, regardless of age, gender, and social background. The program will continue in 2021.
The Teachtoday initiative supports children, young people, parents, and grandparents as well as teaching professionals with hands-on tips and materials about safe, proficient media usage. The materials are available at www.teachtoday.de in seven languages (German, English, Croatian, Montenegrin, Polish, Romanian, and Hungarian). In 2020, we also focused on civil courage for this target group with the title “Courage on the internet”.
Digital learning plays a particularly important role in this now that digital schooling and remote learning have become an even bigger part of students’ day-to-day lives. This is why we published and expanded a new digital toolbox on Teachtoday in 2020. The toolbox offers more than 100 formats to promote media and democratic literacy among young people aged 9-16. These include project ideas, video tutorials, exciting quizzes, and brief learning units. It is aimed at learning groups, students, parents, and teachers.
Teachtoday also has its own YouTube channel with short catchy videos about safe, proficient internet use, data protection, and how truthful people are online.
SCROLLER and SCROLLER TV
The SCROLLER children’s media magazine is geared specifically to children aged nine to twelve to improve their media literacy. It is available in both an interactive web version and a free print format. We published the tenth issue, highlighting “Courage on the internet”, in the reporting year.
In 2020, we introduced a new format, SCROLLER TV, aimed at giving children a meaningful and entertaining way to spend their time while at home during the Covid-19 pandemic. SCROLLER-TV offers important topics on media usage from the everyday lives of elementary school children and invites young and old to share experiences. Each topic combines expert interviews, animated films, tips, and do-it-yourself elements into an entertaining piece highlighting competent media use.
Our #TAKEPART stories (#DABEI-Geschichten) initiative addresses socially relevant digitalization topics in a practical way and turns them into opportunities for opinion leaders. The initiative highlights potential for participation and responsible conduct on the internet and aims to encourage a critical discussion about this subject. In this way, the initiative contributes to our #TAKEPART campaign. The team uses didactic formats to develop the content and implement it in the form of innovative modules. The modules are available in German and English, as well as in simplified language. No matter how complex a topic is, we think it’s important to leave it up to the users themselves to decide whether it’s important for them. We ensure appropriate linguistic and didactic preparation of the material.
#TAKEPART stories offer various modules with a focus on civil courage: digital democracy, opinion making on the internet, online civil courage, and other topics from the digital world such as digital friendship and living in the city of the future.
For the past 20 years we have been offering free 16 Mbit/s broadband lines to all general and vocational schools in Germany as part of the „Telekom@School“ initiative. In the fall of last year, around 22,000 schools had taken up this free-of-charge offer. Another 6,000 schools opted for chargeable, higher bandwidth lines, which are sponsored by Deutsche Telekom. We intensified our commitment to connected schools during the reporting year. In addition, we contacted around 17,000 schools to improve their access to modern IT infrastructure. They can now easily increase their internet speed to up to 250 Mbit/s by ordering an upgrade from ADSL to VDSL – which will be free of charge until August 2021. Around 10 percent of these schools have taken up our offer.
Our consultancy subsidiary Detecon supports schools in drawing up media development plans and funding requests. In the reporting year, we launched an educational flat rate for school operators, which receive unlimited data usage for a small monthly fee. In addition, they can equip disadvantaged students with equipment such as tablets or laptops, which are, for example, funded by the DigitalPakt initiative. This gives children and young people the opportunity to learn how to use digital media irrespective of their family background. Our Group Representative for Education has central responsibility for our commitment to schools.
Since the beginning of 2021, we have been working with Microsoft to further boost digital work at schools through a comprehensive digital education package. Under this initiative, we provide laptops or tablets and special education licenses for the Microsoft MS365 software - sometimes free of charge. A team of Deutsche Telekom experts – specially certified by Microsoft – provides the service and helps set up the devices for a fee. Schools can use the MS365 software free of charge if they have an A1 license.
In the United States, T-Mobile is also committed to connecting schools and students. The “Project 10Million” initiative was especially important in 2020 after more than 50 million school children in the US were unexpectedly instructed to begin distance learning as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds of US school districts were able to get students connected with their schools for free thanks to the initiative. T-Mobile worked with school districts, extracurricular programs, and local authorities to offer affordable internet access to more than 2.5 million students nationwide.
In carrying out our social commitment, we not only implement central projects and initiatives, but also encourage the volunteer efforts of our employees. In addition, we provide financial support, for example, by being involved as a sponsor, and supporting projects and non-profit organizations that work for better coexistence and against exclusion.
The national companies carry out independent regional initiatives. We also work closely across national borders when it comes to our social involvement and share experience and best practices. Close cooperation with social players such as NGOs, associations, and initiatives also plays an important role.
Deutsche Telekom Stiftung’s commitment
Deutsche Telekom Stiftung is committed to better education in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), with numerous programs and projects. It does so because it is convinced that a modern education system must give young people the best possible preparation for meeting global challenges such as digital transformation, climate change, electromobility, and biodiversity.
Community Investment ESG KPI KPI
We report a set of three KPIs for calculating the impact of our social commitment. They comprise the Community Investment ESGBeneficiaries ESG KPI and the Media Literacy ESG KPI. Our activities are based on the methods employed by the London Benchmarking Group (LBG), which incorporate the aspects, "input," "output" and "impact".
The Community Investment ESG KPI illustrates activities in which Deutsche Telekom was involved in the community either financially, through its employees, or through donating materials.
Our ambition: increase KPI
The investment volume for our entire network infrastructure in 2020 was € 17.0 billion (with more than € 5.5 billion of this in Germany), and we are already providing LTE to 98.7 percent of the population in our national companies. What's more, we operate the largest fiber-optic network in Germany, with more than 500,000 kilometers of cables, and are driving the expansion of a large-scale NB-IoT infrastructure for the cities of the future. Thanks to the Internet rollout, our investments are making an important contribution to facilitating access to fast Internet for large sections of the public. This, in turn, is the foundation for the positive development of our business KPIs, e.g. the Media Literacy ESG KPI. Furthermore, our products and services are contributing to climate protection and resource efficiency. Our products range from ICT solutions such as video conferencing and Industry 4.0 to sustainable connected farming and Smart City concepts.
Additionally, the Community Investment ESG KPI makes an important contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals 2020, about 67 million euros of the community investments have contributed to the SDG 4 (quality education).. In
Beneficiaries and Media Literacy ESG KPIs KPI
The report comprises a set of three KPIs for calculating the impact of our social commitment. In addition to the Community Investment ESG KPI, we report the Beneficiaries and the Media Literacy ESG KPI here. Our activities are based on the methods employed by the London Benchmarking Group (LBG), which incorporate the aspects, "input," "output" and "impact".
The Beneficiaries ESG KPI reflects the number of people who got involved in community activities and the number of people in the target group that participate in or benefited from such activities (e.g. media literacy trainings, DSL connection in schools and crisis helpline).
Our ambition: increase KPI
The Media Literacy ESG KPI reflects the share of people we have reached through programs addressing this topic. This KPI establishes a direct correlation between these activities and our core business. The ESG KPI reached 45 percent by the end of 2020. We have thus achieved our goal of increasing the KPI to 45 percent by 2020.
We support the social commitment of our employees with our range of corporate volunteering opportunities. Through their commitment, they play a major role in strengthening social cohesion, broadening their own horizons, and boosting their social skills. This in turn has a positive impact on teamwork at the company.
Our corporate citizenship program engagement@telekom pursues two aims – to support our employees’ current involvement and encourage them to find new ways to contribute to society. To that end, we give them opportunities to volunteer: There are numerous Social Days, for example, for them to get involved in a good cause.
One focus of engagement@telekom is on projects that promote media literacy, where employees help people better understand digital phenomena, thus laying the groundwork for participation in the digital world. The environment is also a critical issue. Among other things, employees started their own activities as part of the Green Pioneers program which helps us reach our Group targets – for example, to reduce CO2 emissions.
As a telecommunications company, we have come through the pandemic relatively well so far compared to other industries. Deutsche Telekom thanked its employees for their strong commitment under difficult conditions in 2020 with a special payment. Executives at the Group are exempt from the special payment. On behalf of the group of executives, however, the Board of Management decided to donate 1 million euros to organizations that have been dedicated to helping the community in Germany and abroad during the coronavirus pandemic. All employees were explicitly called upon to use this as inspiration for possible private donations. Employees met this suggestion with much praise and approval and recognized it with #EvenStrongerTogether).
Joint commitment with partners
We have taken on the task of driving forward the social discussion on digital responsibility. To do this, we participate in various alliances and partnerships such as the “Corporate Digital Responsibility” initiative run by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection.
We emphasize our commitment by signing the Charter of Digital Networking and through our involvement in its supporting association.
We have longstanding partnerships with many organizations, associations, and initiatives with whom we work as part of our social commitment These proved particularly important during the Covid-19 pandemic: In 2020, for example, call volumes at our longstanding cooperation partner, the Telefonseelsorge crisis hotline, were consistently around 10 percent higher than usual.
The “Nummer gegen Kummer” youth counseling line has also seen increased need during the pandemic. Children and young people, parents and caregivers can call various numbers to share their concerns and needs with the counselors. Since March, there has been a 20 percent increase in the number of calls at both the parent line and the chat for children and young people, and the duration of calls is also significantly longer.
We have other partnerships, for example:
- With Aktion Deutschland Hilft,
- Deutschland sicher im Netz e.V. (DsiN), to support activities aimed at IT safety and data privacy (among other things, we support the Digital Neighborhood project, in which volunteers provide tips and advice on digital opportunities and data security),
- With nebenan.de,
- With the “German Association of Senior Citizens' Organizations” (BAGSO) to promote media literacy among older people.
- As a participant in the “Woche des bürgerschaftlichen Engagements” (Community Volunteering Week) sponsored by the National Network for Civil Society.
In 2020, we gave special attention to our intensive partnerships with our campaign #TAKEPART – No hate speech. We worked to intensify 44 existing and new partnerships with NGOs and organizations that are dedicated to preventing hate speech online and, above all, that activate people to join us in combating hate online. Of course, victim support and follow-up of incidents also play an important role for us. We have added organizations to our portfolio to support these goals. We have communicated this involvement with our partners very clearly: We included a small selection of organizations in our commercial highlighting “Words must not become weapons”, which was seen by many millions of people; we presented more organizations in our special feature on telekom.com, and held joint events, communications and discussions with many millions of people taking part. The more than 330 million contacts reached throughout the campaign demonstrate that the topic is highly relevant for society. And that is not the only reason we are continuing our commitment in this area beyond 2020.
To make it even easier for people to reach our partners in order to engage in constructive dialog online, or who have been victims of online hate themselves or know of people impacted, we activated a Messenger chatbot on Facebook that guides users to potentially interesting partners by answering just a few questions. Facebook users were able to see the chatbot right away and many millions of people were made aware of it.
Financial commitment and sponsorships
In Germany we are involved in the fields of sport, culture, and social issues. The national companies are also engaged in these areas. In addition to providing funding, we help artists, athletes, event organizers, and associations with their communication and marketing activities. Our Sponsorship Policy provides the framework for sponsoring activities. Being involved in the regions where we are based is another important aspect. Examples of our involvement include:
- Music sponsorship
- Competitive sport sponsorship with partners such as the DFB (German Football Association), FC Bayern Munich, Telekom Baskets Bonn, and Deutsche Sporthilfe, DFB's Sepp Herberger Foundation, and the German National Paralympic Committee
- Recreational sport sponsorship
- Sponsorship of social activities associated with partnerships
Additional information on the sponsorship activities of Deutsche Telekom AG is available here.
Through our corporate giving program, we support the work of aid organizations worldwide – preferably in the form of long-standing partnerships – and provide rapid assistance in disaster situations. Our Group Donation Policy lays out the guidelines for these activities.
Our contribution to containing the coronavirus pandemic
With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 demonstrated the vast opportunities offered by digitalization for meeting social challenges: People have switched to working from home, online shopping, and contactless payment reduce the risk of infection, physicians offer virtual visits, contact tracking apps help contain the pandemic – and people throughout the world get together by video chat.
Containing the coronavirus pandemic was also a priority for us in 2020. Even in times of crisis, we remain committed to keeping everyone connected. Our multi-billion investments in network infrastructure paid off in the pandemic: Our networks are stable and we reported no major outages in 2020. We also helped contain the pandemic with numerous other activities. You can also find detailed information about our activities in our Corona-Ticker.
Breaking the chain of infection with the Corona-Warn-App
At the request of the German government, we joined forces with SAP to develop a coronavirus contact tracing app, the Corona-Warn-App. It can be used to track infection chains and quickly break them. The contact tracing app is a useful digital supplement to the Covid-19 rules of conduct.
Helping people work from home
Millions of people in Germany worked from home in 2020. To enable employees to work from home efficiently and stay connected despite the distance, we offer our business customers secure solutions. Our home office configurator helps small and medium-sized businesses, for example, to develop customized solutions for staff working from home. Likewise, our Digital Schutzpaket Business (digital business protection package) keeps sensitive customer data safe.
At Deutsche Telekom, we have introduced comprehensive regulations for working from home, hygiene concepts, and other support measures to fulfill our responsibility as an employer. We have taken special precautions for our employees in the Telekom Shops and in the field, who cannot work from home. We offered many courses from our extensive health program online in 2020. We also launched the “My Health Journey”, a new mental health program.
Supporting schools and distance learning
We are also furthering the digitalization trend in schools: not only with fiber-optic connections, but also with a diverse offering. Our extensive range of media literacy offerings such as Teachtoday and SCROLLER provide informative content for students and parents in 2020.
To make time at home easier, we expanded our free entertainment and cultural programming: In addition to a subscription to Disney+, we broadcast the #DABEI station through MagentaTV. In addition, we broadcast numerous concerts, bringing music into people's homes – from the global charity concert “One World: Together At Home” to the first digital “Wacken World Wide” festival.
Reliable partner in times of crisis
We also helped ease the impact of the coronavirus crisis on society with a range of further activities. The measures in question include providing additional data volume free of charge, gifting smartphones to retirement and care homes, and establishing a hotline to support nebenan.de, a neighborhood help portal. In addition, we donated 1 million euros to aid organizations that have provided a wide range of community assistance during the pandemic.
The food service and cultural sectors have been particularly hard hit by the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. We want to support those industries where there is an existential threat to people. That’s why we launched a special solution for food service businesses: an online store that can be quickly up and running and enables reservations and contactless payment. The service could be used free of charge for six months as part of a test phase. We also supported the #lauterwerden festival and held a live stream for carnival in Cologne. The goal of the charity events was to raise awareness and support for the helpers who make the arts and culture scene possible in the first place – from technicians to caterers.
During the crisis, we proved that we are a reliable partner. That is why F.A.Z.-Institut, a company specializing in management, media and marketing information, honored us with a “heroes of the crisis” award in 2020.
Examples of international engagement
The “Project 10Million” initiative at T-Mobile US was especially important after more than 50 million school children in the US were unexpectedly instructed to begin distance learning as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds of US school districts were able to get students connected with their schools for free thanks to the initiative. T-Mobile worked with school districts, extracurricular programs, and local authorities to offer affordable internet access to more than 2.5 million students nationwide.
T-Systems ITC Iberia organized a 24-hour SOLIDARITY HACKATHON in order to find a solution for food shortages which occurred during the pandemic. 20 developers from T-Systems searched for a technical solution to help speed up the delivery of fresh food – working non-stop, day and night. This resulted in the T-Mercabarna Solidaria app, which was developed in collaboration with Mercabarna. The app consists of a digital market place which brings unsold stock from wholesalers together with social welfare organizations, such as the Red Cross, and logistics companies who can transport the food.
Magyar Telekom donated laptops and tablets worth around 8.9 million forints, which corresponds to more than 24,000 euros, to UNICEF. This donation should help children who have no access to technical devices so they too can take part in digital education during the pandemic.
You can find more measures aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic in the national companies’ profiles.