Access to education, economic independence, healthcare: the potential of digitalization for a more equal, sustainable world is huge. The new Digital Inclusion Benchmark from the World Benchmarking Alliance shows how good technology companies are at ensuring equal access to the opportunities afforded by digitalization as well as approaching risks in a responsible and forward-looking manner. Deutsche Telekom is proud to be one of the top 10 global companies listed in the new Digital Inclusion Benchmark.
Good marks in the categories access, use skills, and innovation reflect the longstanding commitment of the company to ensure digital participation. As far back as 2008, the Group made “Connect the Unconnected” one of the core action areas of the Corporate Responsibility strategy. The Group addresses the prerequisites for participation on various levels: from the opportunity of physical access that we drive forward through the network build-out and affordability, for example, through to personal media literacy that is reflected in both use skills and the confident dealing with the digital world as well as the trust in it (ability).
Media literacy has a socio-political dimension
The topic of media literacy is increasingly becoming more than just a private dimension – e.g., protecting personal data or dealing with cyberbullying – and now also has a socio-political dimension as this is also about coming together online on the basis of democratic rules. Only when these two aspects are combined is it possible for people to feel comfortable online and make use of opportunities for themselves without excluding other people or being excluded themselves.
Therefore, through various projects and initiatives, Deutsche Telekom supports people who campaign for socially-relevant topics and a constructive collaboration online. Not only that, the Group also developed its own initiatives some years ago for more media literacy and has pooled them on the “Media, sure! But secure.” website. Information and material for all ages and target groups are offered here. Much of this information and material is available in German, English, and simplified language that is used in Germany by around 10 million people in order to understand complex topics. The #TAKEPART stories take a practical look at aspects of digitalization world that are relevant to wider society and transfer these to an offering for multipliers who can then approach their target groups and – without having to be an expert themselves – can use all of the material for workshops. The multiple award-winning “Teachtoday” initiative supports children and young people in safely and competently using the internet. 2020, Deutsche Telekom has also published a toolbox there with 104 formats for 9- to12- and 13- to16-year-olds that support workshops, school projects, and also self-learning.
Make digital participation possible
Further examples of the wide range of digital participation include network build-out projects in cooperation with municipalities that are not exclusively driven forward based on economic aspects (Wir jagen Funklöcher, “hunting down dead zones”, German only) or reduced rates in various national companies which are made available to various people such as those with disabilities, a low income, or to school children. Additional campaigns were launched in various national companies during the coronavirus pandemic in order to enable homeschooling, among other things. For instance, an education flat rate was made available to school children.
The various opportunities afforded by digitalization can only be used successfully for society if there is also sufficient awareness for potential risks. While high standards in terms of data privacy and data protection have been a tradition for a long time at Deutsche Telekom, the Group also proactively addresses the impacts of innovations on society: this also includes the issue of responsibly using artificial intelligence (AI). Artificial intelligence (AI) is also imperceptibly featured in an ever-growing number of ICT products and services. It offers chances but also poses challenges. As far back as 2018, the Group devised guidelines for the ethical use of AI. They serve as guidelines for the responsible use of AI – a fact that was considered particularly positively by the World Benchmarking Alliance in its assessment.
World Benchmarking Alliance
The World Benchmarking Alliance is a network of several major civil society and political players that is committed to making the contribution of companies towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations visible and to inspire improvement opportunities via benchmarks. The Digital Inclusion Ranking can be viewed by all free of charge and is made available to governments, investments, and civic interest groups all over the world each year. In 2020, 100 of the most influential global technology groups from the fields of hardware, telecommunications, software, and IT were assessed. For the ranking, 16 indicators in the superordinate categories “improve access”, “teach skills”, “digital security”, and “innovation” were analyzed.