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Aspect 2: Employee concerns

With their commitment, expertise, and high performance, our on average more than 200,000 employees ensure that we live up to our ambition to always be there for our customers, to operate a stable network, to grow the Company, and to pave the way for the digital society. They are therefore of pivotal importance for our business success. Six Guiding Principles, representing our values, form the cornerstones for collaboration within our Company. We have defined our strategic HR priorities in line with the motto: “Supporting people. Driving performance.” We attach great importance to employee involvement and fair behavior toward colleagues, promote diversity, and engage in systematic health management.

For our Guiding Principles and further information about our HR work, please refer to the section “Employees.”

For information on the opportunities and risks associated with employees, please refer to the section “Risk and opportunity management.”

Collaboration with employees’ representatives and trade unions

Digitalization is fundamentally changing the way we work together. Employees are expected to demonstrate ever-greater flexibility, social skills, and autonomy, to continue learning throughout their lives, and to work with greater independence. We have made it our goal to support our employees in this transformation – and to help them not only to manage change, but also to take an active role in shaping it.

Codetermination rights play a key role in the digital transformation. Together with employees’ representatives and trade unions, we want to create the working world of the future – with an eye to the needs of our workforce and the success of our Company. As the underlying laws and contracts vary from country to country, codetermination matters are managed locally with trade unions and employees’ representatives. Group management is generally involved in issues of particular importance.

The works councils, central works councils, and Group Works Council represent the interests of Group employees in Germany. Our partner representing the employees’ interests on a European level is the European Works Council (EWC). We also have executive staff representation committees and representatives of disabled employees at unit, company, and Group level. The EWC has been one of our established key dialog partners for many years, representing the interests of our employees in countries within the European Union and the European Economic Area. The EWC has up to 32 seats (prior year: 32), 28 of which are currently occupied (prior year: 28) (as of December 31, 2023). Collective bargaining plays an important role and has a long tradition at our Company, a fact made clear by the percentage of employees covered by collective agreements. As of December 31, 2023, 74 % of employees in Germany were covered by collective agreements (prior year: 73 %). We record the Group-wide coverage rate every two years. As of December 31, 2022, it stood at around 45 %. In 2023, 45 collective agreements were signed with the trade unions in Germany (prior year: 90), which is a testament to the close cooperation with employees’ representatives.

We also monitored trade union matters in the United States over the course of 2023. The responsibility for national human resources management matters in the United States lies with T‑Mobile US’ management, who are committed to exercising this responsibility. Across the globe, Deutsche Telekom respects the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining in accordance with national law. This applies to the United States, with employees at T‑Mobile US entitled to form or join a trade union. At the same time, employees are also free to choose not to do so. In accordance with national legal requirements, T‑Mobile US does not discriminate against employees because of a decision they have made about union support.

Our human rights policy statement Code of Human Rights & Social Principles was expanded in the reporting year to incorporate aspects such as the content of the existing Employee Relations Policy. The Code of Human Rights contains our globally applicable self-commitment to uphold freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, among other elements. The new structure of the revised Code of Human Rights is also based on the requirements of the German Act on Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains (Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz – LkSG).

Our employee survey, which of late has been carried out every two years, is a key indicator of the relationship between our Company and its workforce. The employee survey was not carried out in the reporting year on account of a change in service provider, and has instead been rescheduled for 2024. On top of this, we conduct pulse surveys (carried out twice a year, or once a year in years when the employee survey is carried out), which give us a sentiment snapshot across the Group. The most recent pulse survey was conducted in November 2023, with 77 % – i.e., more than 106,000 colleagues – participating. The survey asked employees about sustainability, among other topics: 81 % of those surveyed (prior year: 84 %) stated that they identified with Deutsche Telekom’s environmental and social engagement. A total of 80 % (prior year: 83 %) believe that Deutsche Telekom acts responsibly toward the environment and society. The values reflect the survey findings excluding T‑Mobile US, since T‑Mobile US conducts its own employee survey.

For further information on the employee survey and the non-financial performance indicator “employee satisfaction,” please refer to the section “Employees.”

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

People from over 120 countries work successfully together at Deutsche Telekom. They all bring their diverse skills and demographic characteristics to the workplace. Respecting the individuality of our employees and harnessing their diversity for our joint success is just as important for our Group as developing a shared corporate culture. That is why the Human Resources and Legal Affairs Board of Management department includes a Diversity team.

Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Group Policy, the six Guiding Principles, the Leadership Anchors as guidance for executives, and the Code of Human Rights are key cornerstones of our commitment to diversity. We are also a founding member of the Diversity Charter corporate initiative and a member of the advisory board of the Beyond Gender Agenda business network. In Germany, for example, our collective agreements on remuneration and other matters reached with the trade unions ensure transparent, gender-neutral compensation.

In line with the key dimensions of diversity set out by the Diversity Charter, we offer all employees – irrespective of age, ethnic origin and nationality, gender and gender identity, physical and mental abilities, religion and worldview, sexual orientation, and social origin – many development opportunities. We have developed action plans for each dimension of diversity so that we can make our working environment even more inclusive and put our diversity strategy in place in the various units. For example, we celebrated the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr and the Pride Festival together with our employees in 2023.

We are particularly keen not only to promote respectful interaction, but also to drive systemic changes in products and processes and make data-driven decisions. For example, executives are now being trained and sensitized on the topic of unconscious bias and other issues so as to avoid biased judgment in hiring and performance decisions. In 2023, we were one of the first DAX companies to introduce a voluntary, anonymous self-identification questionnaire in a pilot project in Germany, India, and Slovakia. This allows us to analyze the results of the employee survey across all seven diversity dimensions and to derive specific recommendations for action. More than 50 % of employees participated. This questionnaire is set to be implemented worldwide in 2025.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) are also rooted in the culture of T‑Mobile US. In 2021, T‑Mobile US launched its strategic DE&I plan Equity In Action, which focuses on employees and on the key priorities of talent, culture, brand, and digital equity. As a part of the Equity In Action plan, T‑Mobile US established an External Diversity and Inclusion Council, which includes members from civil rights and social justice organizations. The External Council helps the company identify priorities, goals, and community efforts. It also helps T‑Mobile US implement its Equity In Action plan and with the delivery of the DE&I promises.

Alongside these action plans, we are also continuing to move forward on cross-divisional issues. These include mentoring programs, flexible working models, child care services, advisory services for those caring for family members, a global talent hub, and innovative ideas for dealing with demographic change. The regular collection of data via the pulse survey is another measure. Questions were asked about nondiscrimination, a safe and supportive working environment, and equal opportunities in the Company. In November 2023, the pulse survey resulted in a score of 91 % for nondiscrimination (previous year: 92 %) and 86 % for equal opportunities (previous year: 85 %).

We also offer various training courses that shine a light on unconscious bias in order to reveal hidden prejudices. Additionally, we offer training on the various aspects of diversity. In the Learning from Experts (LEX) format, employees regularly provide input, including on issues with DE&I relevance. Finally, we support our numerous employee networks, employee resource groups (ERGs), and corporate communities, in Germany for example MagentaPride, Women@telekom, the Fathers’ Network, BIPoC@DT (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), and the newly founded Network for Neurodiversity. At T‑Mobile US, there are six internal diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) employee resource groups (ERGs). The ERGs include a group for persons with disabilities, a multicultural group with sub-affinity groups, a multigenerational network, an LGBTQI+ community, a network for veterans and active members of the military, and a women’s network. Each of the ERGs also focuses on, and welcomes, allies.

For further information on equity and diversity in our Group, please refer to the section “Employees.”

Occupational health and safety

Measures that promote health within the Company not only help individual employees and ensure long-term business success, but also have positive effects outside of the Company. For example, certain vaccinations and check-up services are also available to the families of employees. We use holistic health management to take on social responsibility and promote a proactive culture of health. We support our employees in maintaining their health and occupational safety with a host of target audience-specific measures and extensive prevention programs. We consider the statutory requirements to be only the minimum standard we must achieve. Our corporate occupational health and safety measures are effectively incorporated into our structures via certified management systems and appropriate policies and guidelines. We support the Group-wide approach with an internationally harmonized quality, work, health, and environmental management system based on the international standards ISO 9001, ISO 45001, and ISO 14001.

The Board of Management bears overarching responsibility for safeguarding health, occupational safety, and the environment. The Group companies have health and safety managers who are responsible for specific processes and offerings that take into account special requirements and conditions right down to company level. We systematically evaluate the measures to ensure they are effective. The health rate, for instance, is reported to the Board of Management once per quarter. In addition, we review the results of our employee survey, analyses of stress prevention measures under collective agreements, health insurance reports, and competitor benchmarks. We analyze this data and use it to derive suitable measures. For example, we have adapted our fire safety assistant concept and introduced an app for our employees to call first aiders in order to respond to the changed conditions due to mobile working. Group-wide initiatives serve to promote health awareness and health literacy among our employees. In Germany, a range of services are available to employees to promote health in the workplace, including comprehensive check-ups, colon cancer screenings, and flu shots.

The health promotion program also includes courses on nutrition, exercise, and relaxation (stress prevention, mindfulness, etc.). As well as action days such as Mindfulness Day or Mental Health Day, there are open lecture series, individual offerings (e.g., sleep advice, nutrition advice sessions), and digital solutions such as the Fitmit5 app to promote healthy break management. Our employees can use the corporate health promotion options free of charge, generally during working hours.

In addition, with our Germany-wide employee and executive advisory service, we offer a range of support services in the area of psychosocial health, but also crisis prevention and advice in the event of personal hardship and extreme incidents. Since 2022, we have been offering an advisory service for international employees affected by the war in Ukraine. We also provided special support for employees and their families impacted by the disastrous earthquakes in Turkey and Syria in 2023.

Standards have been put in place in Germany to improve occupational safety by regulating aspects such as safe, ergonomic environments in buildings and vehicles. In addition to services available to all employees, there are also target group-specific measures. Examples of these include driver safety training for certain areas of work or special safety training for employees who are deployed to work at cell tower sites. As well as preventing accidents, the aim is to promote the health and motivation of employees and therefore also increase the health rate.

Several key figures validate our performance in terms of corporate health management services: the total number of work-related accidents decreased slightly compared with the previous year. The accident rate in Germany was 5.2 accidents (resulting in more than three days of absence) per thousand employees (prior year: 5.5). At Telekom entities in Germany, the health rate in 2023a, including long-term illnesses, was 94.3 % (prior year: 93.8 %). Excluding long-term illnesses, the health rate in 2023 stood at 95.8 % (prior year: 95.2 %).

The health index, which is measured as part of the employee survey, most recently recorded a slight increase of four points to a score of 69 (on a scale of 0 to 100) in 2021 in comparison with the previous survey. Preparations for the next round of surveys began in 2023.

a aThe health rate covered 98.5 % of the workforce in the reporting year. Five companies are not included in the health rate as they do not use a technical time management system which allows for this kind of reporting. This concerns 1.5 % of the workforce in Germany.