The implementation of Deutsche Telekom AG’s Employee Relations Policy (ERP) in all global units is regularly analyzed by means of a monitoring procedure. Such an ERP review took place at the OTE Group in Greece by means of an on-site visit on September 23 and 24, 2021. This monitoring procedure also included a human rights impact assessment. We also arranged for such a review at OTE back in 2016. One of the key elements of the review was the collaboration with a range of stakeholders and rights holders.
The Employee Relations Policy (ERP) reviews are one aspect of DTAG’s human rights due diligence. An ERP review analyzes qualitative aspects of the relationship between the employer and the employee as well as the relationships between employees. A further objective is to understand the business impacts on these internal relationships. The review is based on the twelve key elements of the Group-wide ERP.
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights expect that companies constantly and systematically implement policies and procedures in order to proactively identify, prevent, alleviate, and tackle problematic impacts with regard to human rights that could result in being a disadvantage, either directly or in terms of their business relationships. Deutsche Telekom supports these guiding principles without restriction and has integrated the respect for human rights in its strategy and fundamental policies, especially in the guiding principles and the Code of Human Rights & Social Principles. A further objective of Deutsche Telekom is to monitor and ensure that these policies are put into practice for all of its corporate activities and in its supply chain. One way of achieving this is in-depth human rights reviews in certain business units that are determined by way of a risk-based analysis. In 2021, Deutsche Telekom visited its subsidiary in Greece in order to carry out such a review.
The review is divided into four phases:
- Phase 1 - Structure and preparation
- Phase 2 - Review of the impacts in terms of human rights
- Phase 3 - Analysis and follow-up work
- Phase 4 - Joint implementation of management measures
We carried out an online employee survey on the topic of human rights issues prior to the on-site visit in Greece. All employees were invited to take part. This online employee survey is anonymous and voluntary.
Results and next steps
Overall, the results of the survey were positive and highlighted many systems and processes already in place, a dedicated and conscientious management team, and a largely satisfied workforce. The discussions were very open and demonstrated an optimistic and loyal workforce that is happy to work at the OTE Group. With the exception of some critical comments that were discussed with the local management, plenty of positive feedback was given such as the wide range of existing advanced training offers and the leadership culture.
The corporate culture at OTE is characterized by loyalty and employee satisfaction. The majority of employees have been working at OTE for a long time. The set of values is part of the annual employee evaluation and is a principal criterion in the recruitment process and talent management approach. The employees also praised the fact that OTE transparently implemented all of the required hygiene policies during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The employees perceived the measures taken to be sufficient and understandable. In this context, the on-going communication was highlighted. The excellent relationship between employees and managers that is characterized by a high level of equality and trust was also highlighted.
On the whole, the employees also praised the company in terms of diversity. For example, OTE recently introduced a new Diversity Policy. OTE is also part of an initiative of the Greek Government promoting diversity in the country. Not only that, part of the recruitment team has already taken part in a training course on unconscious bias and, by the end of 2021, all recruiters and recruitment managers had completed a respective online learning course.
Only a small amount of topics were criticized. An action plan was agreed for these topics in order to accelerate the identified improvement options. This action plan is primarily aimed at improving the management of employees’ working hours and overtime. Policies aimed at mobile working were discussed and practical examples from other countries were shared. Discussions with management also resulted in a recommendation to examine upcoming legislation with respect to human rights due diligence in the supply chain.
Furthermore, Deutsche Telekom also wishes to integrate the knowledge gained into the policies and processes on a global level and to use these experiences in order to further develop the human rights due diligence approach.