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Corporate Responsibility

Human rights

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At Deutsche Telekom we are committed to acting responsibly, in everything that we do. As a global leader in telecommunication solutions, our goal is to contribute positively to the major societal and ecological developments of our age. We understand that universal human rights are a prerequisite for these ambitions.

Graphic: Human rights due diligence at Deutsche Telekom

We respect all the fundamental human rights laid out in the International Bill of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization’s Core Labour Rights, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and ten Principles of the UN Global Compact.  We spell out this commitment in our Code of Human Rights and further policies and regulations. We are dedicated to respecting human rights and strive to prevent adverse human rights impacts related to our operations, our suppliers, and our customers at the global or local level.

Our human rights map

Our human rights maps show areas where people could be potentially negatively or positively impacted by our operations and business relationships. It provides orientation for our human rights’ due diligence activities. We acknowledge that human rights focus areas may change as our business evolves and commit to continuously review and amend these topic areas and related human rights due diligence activities.  

Human Rights map

Human Rights map. Download (jpg, 559.6 KB)

Deutsche Telekom value chain

Deutsche Telekom value chain. Download (jpg, 266.7 KB)

Our Due Diligence, Overview and Details 

We have developed a comprehensive human rights due diligence programme in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Our actions are informed by international standards, continuous stakeholder engagement and collaboration between our Group and local business units.
 

Governance and Commitment

Our Code of Human Rights codifies our commitment to respect human rights. It is supplemented by various other internal and external policies. We have put a governance structure in place to oversee the implementation of these commitments. 

  • The Corporate Responsibility Department is responsible for the group wide human rights strategy. This department is directly assigned to the Board of Directors for human resources and law. It includes a Contact Point for Human Rights that is managing the topic at group level which includes the whole human rights due diligence process. It is supported by a Global Human Rights Working Group, which consists of representatives from different functions. Directors of local units hold the overall responsibility for implementing human rights due diligence on the local and regional level, reporting back on an annual basis.
  • The Senior VP Group Corporate Responsibility has overall strategic oversight over human rights.
  • A dedicated CR Board informs all Managing Directors regularly about human rights progress 

Risk and impact assessments

We continually assess human rights risks and impacts at Group and local level through different methods. 
These include:

  • Our Contact Point for Human Rights at Group level has established processes with local and Group functions to monitor risks and gather data from these functions, incl. HR, HSE, Internal Revision.
  • Our Human Rights Cockpit monitors indicators on employee-related topics from global and local locations 
  • An annual Human Rights & Social Performance Report assesses the state of implementation of our Human Rights Code across all functions of our business. 
  • We conduct annual sustainability risk assessments across our supply chains which include human rights. We use tools such as EcoVadis, RepRisk, social audits and mobile surveys conducted by internal and external experts.
  • We regularly conduct human rights risk assessments (HRIA) at international locations that are considered high risk. Please see more information via this link.
  • We follow a systematic approach to monitoring all our local functions’ adherence to our Employee Relations Policy, considering their specific local contexts. Focus topics include wages, non-discrimination, freedom of expression, virtual work, diversity and work-life-balance. You can read more about Employee Relations Assessments here.

Taking action to prevent and mitigate

We are taking action to prevent and mitigate negative impacts on rightsholders. These measures are continuously refined and developed, to respond to changing risk and business context. 

Examples of how we take action:

  • Training: We offer a voluntary Human Rights Training for all our employees Group wide including topics such as discrimination, freedom of expression, data privacy etc. 
  • And we offer mandatory compliance trainings including human rights topics for our suppliers
  • Supply chain: We have established a comprehensive supply chain risk assessment programme. We cover social and environmental aspects as well as human rights risks as part of the supplier selection process and regularly conduct supply chain sustainability assessments. We do have supplier development programmes in place to enhance suppliers’ sustainability capabilities.
  • Action plans following HRIA and supplier assessments: Upon identifying human rights and other sustainability risks and impacts we develop and implement action plans to mitigate them. Actions may include awareness raising workshops on CSR/Sustainability matters or corrective and improving measures. We take action both locally and at Group level to address identified issues at the earliest time.

Grievance management

We provide various channels for all stakeholders to raise questions and concerns or to report grievances in relation to human rights. 

These channels are open to everyone - employees, suppliers, contractors, other business partners, employees in our supply chains and civil society:

  • Contact Point for Human Rights: A central point of contact for human rights provides the opportunity to submit general enquiries to us. It can be reached under the public email address humanrights@telekom.de
  • TellMe! Our whistleblower portal listing various contact options, which allow to submit information anonymously. The purpose is to resolve violations of legal regulations and internal policies. Information received will be treated confidentially by experts and we are committed to looking into all reports received and introduce countermeasures as soon as the information is identified as plausible.
  • Dedicated contact points for grievances related to specific, high risk business areas, such as data security or infrastructure projects
  • For our own employees, the first instance is to speak to direct line managers in confidence. 
  • For further issues regarding non-compliance with the employee relations ERPolicy@telekom.de
  • In case of indications or a risk of a possible or real act of violence (e.g. sexual harassment, radicalization, bomb threats, etc.) please directly contact the threat management (“Bedrohungsmanagement”). Our colleagues offer immediate support and information under +171 2235 756  or Bedrohungsmanagement@telekom.de. All requests are treated with utmost confidentiality. 
  • Employees and executives personal are also offered counselling in difficult professional and private life situations such as personal crises and extreme or difficult situations in day-to-day leadership. Please contact the BAD GmbH by phone (+800 124 11 88). Further information can be found at here.

Monitoring and Reporting

We share our progress and challenges in our human rights’ due diligence in a transparent manner, internally and externally.

  • We publish an annual CR Report that covers human rights 
  • Our British subsidiary T-Systems ltd publishes annual Modern Slavery Statements
  • We contribute to relevant conferences and stakeholder events
  • An intranet page covering human rights due diligence, as well as regular information campaigns and awareness raising on prominent internal human rights risk topics such as discrimination.

Stakeholder involvement and networks

Deutsche Telekom takes itself as an active part of a global community and is committed to working with governments, industry, partners and civil society to fulfil its human rights commitments. 

We are working on human rights related topic, such as freedom of expression, discrimination etc.,  as part of the following national and international initiatives such as:

Telekom  supports the UN LGBT+ Standards of Conduct for Business

Deutsche Telekom AG supports the United Nations Standards of Conduct for Business to tackle discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex (LGBT+, + Plus sign stands for not excluding anyone ) people. “We are promoting an environment of mutual respect, tolerance and diversity. We stand up for human rights and promote openness and understanding in a digitalized and networked world. I am very pleased that we have adopted the UN's global LGBT+ Standards of Conduct for business,” said Birgit Klesper, Senior Vice President Corporate Responsibility.

Since 2000, Deutsche Telekom AG has been a member of the UN Global Compact, and is expressly committed to the United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. “In joining 240 of the early supporters of the UN Global LGBT+ Standards for Business, Deutsche Telekom is sending a powerful signal to the ICT industry and beyond. As a responsible company, Deutsche Telekom is dedicated to respecting and protecting human rights including those of LGBT+ people.” said Fabrice Houdart, United Nations Human Rights Officer and co-author of the Standards. MagentaPride, the Group's LGBT+ employee network, is proud that Deutsche Telekom expressing its engagement to human rights by drawing the standards of conduct for business - tackling discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi, trans, & intersex people.

Focus area: Corporate Digital Responsibility 

Our greatest concern related to our technologies and products are, our customers’ rights to privacy, freedom of expression and online safety. We work hard to ensure that their personal data is handled transparently and responsibly, not compromising the individual’s privacy or safety. Read more on our positions and statement around data protection and consult our data protection status report.

Where we are legally required to share such data with governments, however, we apply a high standard of diligence and transparency as stated in our Transparency Report

We know that children are a group who are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation online. Through various initiatives and partnerships, we are working towards protecting minors beyond what the law requires from us, raising awareness, building media literacy and providing support to children and their support networks. Read more on our commitment to protection of minors here or on our national child online safety pages.

Our digital responsibility goes beyond the individual customer but also, we apply due diligence in developing and designing new products and technologies, especially such involving AI and IoT (Internet of Things). Our Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence outline the standards we apply to ensure new developments will not infringe on human rights, again with a focus on security and privacy. We are aware that our technologies including such using AI can serve as enablers of human rights globally. We are continuously striving to harness this potential. 

Employee Relations Policy

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