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12/10/2013 | Deutsche Telekom: Respecting human rights and promoting compliance

December 10 is International Human Rights Day. Whether it be providing services for deaf and hard-of-hearing customers in Germany, Telemedicine in Kenya or free Internet access in schools – these projects and services have one thing in common: They all contribute to supporting human rights.

Protecting human rights is mainly considered to be a mission for States, but companies are also responsible for ensuring that they respect human rights in their often far-reaching business activities. In addition to international labor standards, the framework for this is mainly defined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. “In our recently revised Social Charter we have explicitly expressed our support for the International Bill of Human Rights,” says Friederike Mayer, director of the point of contact for human rights issues addressed to DT. Having a company-wide complaint mechanism available is just as important. Complaints regarding potential violations of human rights can be reported via the Tell me! whistleblower portal. Tell me! is the central gateway for all potential violations against Deutsche Telekom policy, laws or principles of conduct.

Development of innovative ICT solutions
One example of a positive contribution to the promotion of human rights is the development of innovative ICT solutions in the field of public health: In this area Deutsche Telekom has recently launched a project to facilitate independent living for the elderly using intelligent assistance systems in Sarstedt, Germany. Another project is the development of a mobile application to improve healthcare for pregnant women in Kenya. Discussions were conducted this year with various stakeholders onsite and designs were tested for developing user-friendly technologies for potential female users. In the education sector, the Group supports the Telekom@School project by offering free Internet access to 34,000 general and vocational students throughout Germany so that they have access to the Internet and therefore to information and education.

“Respecting and promoting human rights is and will remain an important issue,” said Mayer. Further steps will be taken in 2014 to embed the UN Guiding Principles in DT’s business activities to ensure compliance with due diligence of human rights through risk analysis and country reviews, among other measures.


Forum for Sustainable Development of German Business e.V.

econsense is an association of leading, globally active companies and organisations of German business specializing in the area of sustainable development and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Founded in 2000 on the initiative of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), the goal of econsense is to provide a dialogue platform and think tank, with the dual objectives of advancing sustainable development in business and assuming social responsibility.