Deutsche Telekom takes a close look at corporate culture

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  • Deutsche Telekom aims to boost ethical behavior and a speak-up culture within the company to minimize compliance risks
  • Scientific study to make corporate culture more transparent
  • Independent expert panel follows research and drafts proposals for improvement

Breaking the law or other rules puts a company's reputation and success on the line – that much has been shown by a number of cases involving DAX-listed companies in recent years. "Establishing what's called a compliance management system is not enough to prevent, investigate and punish rule breaking. An appropriate corporate culture, where employees feel able to speak out against inappropriate behavior, also has a vital role to play," says Thomas Kremer, member of the Deutsche Telekom Board of Management for Data Privacy, Legal Affairs and Compliance.

That is why Deutsche Telekom is taking steps to strengthen ethical behavior and a speak-up culture in the company. "The first step is to analyze how our corporate culture works on a day-to-day basis and the causes of inappropriate behavior," explains Manuela Mackert, Deutsche Telekom's Chief Compliance Officer. "Then, with the help of an expert panel, we will work on how to improve our compliance-oriented corporate culture." Deutsche Telekom has commissioned the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) and the Hertie School of Governance to examine its corporate culture in detail in a scientific study.

"We want to find out how much significance is attached in the company to ethical and rule-abiding behavior and, in that context, the roles played by hierarchy and orientation in achieving certain goals," says Prof. Jörg Rocholl from ESMT Berlin. And Prof. Helmut K. Anheier from the Hertie School of Governance adds: “Possible drivers of unethical behavior may include ambiguous responsibilities or a misconstrued sense of loyalty. This requires closer inspection."

The study will be monitored by an independent expert panel due to hold its first meeting on September 1, 2016. The results of the study and its recommendations for action should be ready by mid-2017. The goal is to produce a white paper with findings on creating a culture that minimizes the risk of law and rule breaking so that it can then also be used by other companies.

Confirmed members of the expert panel thus far are:

  • Manuela Mackert, Chief Compliance Officer at Deutsche Telekom (Co-chair)
  • Prof. Stephan Grüninger, Hochschule Konstanz University of Applied Sciences (HTWG), Konstanz, Germany (Co-chair)
  • Monika Brandl, Chairwoman of the Central Works Council at Deutsche Telekom AG
  • Prof. Muel Kaptein, Professor of Business Ethics and Integrity Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Birgit Klesper, Head of Group Transformational Change & Corporate Responsibility, Deutsche Telekom
  • Prof. Klaus M. Leisinger, Chairman of the Global Values Alliance Foundation, Basel, Switzerland
  • Noor Naqschbandi, corruption prevention, UN Global Compact, Germany Network
  • Sylvia Schenk, Transparency International, Germany Chapter
  • Prof. Rita Süßmuth, former President of the Bundestag and German federal minister
  • Dr. Matteo Tonello, Managing Director, The Conference Board, New York

About Deutsche Telekom
Deutsche Telekom is one of the world’s leading integrated telecommunications companies with more than 156 million mobile customers, 29 million fixed-network lines and around 18 million broadband lines (as of December 31, 2015). The Group provides fixed-network/broadband, mobile communications, Internet and Internet-based TV products and services for consumers, and ICT solutions for businesses and corporate customers. Deutsche Telekom has a presence in more than 50 countries and employs about 225,200 people worldwide. The Group generated revenues of 69.2 billion euros in the 2015 financial year – roughly 64 percent of it outside Germany.