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Engaging Employees in their Communities

Materiality Assessment Topics: Philanthropy and employee volunteerism | Global Reporting Initiative Standard Disclosures: GRI 404-1, GRI 404-2

Issue Summary

Our employees are involved in serving their communities across the country, and their commitment is evident across the company. Their dedication and selfless service impact the communities where we live and work. Our company strives to empower them and provide opportunities for employees around the world to use their skills and passions for good.

Our Position

At AT&T, sustainability isn’t just about corporate initiatives and boardroom decisions. It’s also about selfless employee actions that build better futures for ourselves and others.

Our sustainability accomplishments were made possible by the dedication and passion of our more than 254,000 employees. Our goal is to support our employees’ engagement efforts by giving them tools, resources and opportunities they can use to make a difference in their communities.

Data Highlights

2017 Key Performance Indicators
  • Number of hours volunteered through employee volunteer programs in 20171: 1.78M+
  • Amount associated with volunteerism in 20172$42M+
  • Amount of employee giving pledged through Employee Pledge Campaign in 2017: $31.6M+
  • Number of student mentoring hours by employees since 2012: 2.27M+
  • Total number of employee members of an Employee Resource Group/Employee Network: 133K+
  • Investment in development of new ideas generated through The Innovation Pipeline, cumulative since 2009: $45M committed, 90+ projects allocated for development

Our Action

Do One Thing (DOT)

DOT is a voluntary, company-wide effort that encourages employees to commit to regular, measurable actions (DOTs) that are good for the employees, their communities and/or the company. DOT personalizes sustainability and makes it relevant and meaningful to each employee. Employees’ DOT activities range from reducing water use and volunteering to encouraging peers in their office to use less paper.

We developed DOT to meet 3 objectives:

  • Educate employees about citizenship and sustainability.
  • Increase employees’ understanding of our commitment to social and environmental good.
  • Create a simple way to involve interested employees in citizenship and sustainability efforts.

Since DOT launched in May 2011 through the end of 2017, more than 53,000 employees in 40 countries have voluntarily chosen and tracked more than 100,000 DOTs on the DOTspot Impact Calculator website. Additionally, employees have formed more than 1,900 DOT teams to create larger impacts by sharing similar passions.


Each year, employees and retirees invest their time and energy in serving their communities. From helping to clean up communities across the country to mentoring students who need it most, our employees continue to inspire. In 2017, our employees volunteered more than 1.78 million hours of time in community outreach activities—worth more than $42 million.2

The AT&T Community Engagement team offers a variety of company-coordinated volunteer events for employees throughout the year. Examples include our 2017 Revolution Day of Service, during which nearly 600 people packaged meals to support the food-insecure population in Nashville, Tenn., and our 2017 Employee Resource Group Day of Service, during which nearly 500 employees built a YMCA playground in Dallas.

Another way employees can connect to charities is through their generosity. In 2017, AT&T employees donated more than $35 million to more than 30,000 charities. Employees also directed more than $4.4 million in AT&T Foundation grants to public charities through our signature Charity Rewards program. Charity Rewards allow employees to support a non-profit with a gift from the AT&T Foundation.3 Employees receive Charity Rewards for various reasons such as pledging funds to or volunteering with a non-profit. In addition, employees pledged more than $31.6 million in donations in 2017 through our annual Employee Pledge Campaign. 13% of those employees who actively made a pledge were new donors.

In Latin America, through a volunteerism initiative called Piedra, Papel, Tijera, employees participated in renovation projects at local schools and community organizations. These projects were captured on video and broadcast as a television series to build awareness for the organizations and people who benefited from the volunteer projects. In 2017, Piedra, Papel, Tijera reached 1.5 million viewers in 10 countries and engaged more than 1,500 employees, who volunteered more than 12,000 hours through 34 projects. Since the program’s September 2009 inception, more than 200 projects have been completed in 13 countries, engaging more than 11,700 employees and reaching more than 100,000 hours of volunteering.

Mentoring as Part of AT&T Aspire

As part of our signature philanthropic initiative, AT&T Aspire, we connect AT&T employees with students to provide mentoring and help students discover their passions and potential. Since September 2012, AT&T employees have provided more than 2.27 million hours of mentoring to more than 350,000 underserved students in 458 cities. Through our Aspire mentoring events, we focus on critical 21st-century work skills, academic support and connecting learning in the classroom with future success.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

We have 12 employee resource groups (ERGs) that are open to all employees and reflect the diversity of our workforce. The groups include representation for women; African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American and LGBTQ employees; employees with disabilities; veterans; young professionals; and experienced career professionals.

The ERGs are non-profit organizations that help members grow professionally and personally, support the company’s annual goals and serve the community. AT&T recognizes the value and goodwill that ERGs provide in furthering the company’s goals, values and interests. The combined ERGs in 2017 accounted for more than 388,000 volunteer hours and granted more than $882,000 in scholarships.

In September 2017, AT&T held its 9th annual National ERG Conference. Nearly 2,000 members paid their own lodging and airfare to attend, with an additional 2,000 watching online. Nearly 200 leaders attended the conference, with more than 110 participating in a panel or fireside chat.

The annual conference also recognizes our 12 Champions of Diversity from the past year. The program honors general managers whose role model behavior supports our diversity and inclusion values and our ERGs/employee networks (ENs). Selections are determined by a corporate diversity team that includes our chairman and chief diversity officer.

In 2017, our ERGs received several awards, including:


  • DiversityInc ranked AT&T’s ERGs No. 3 on its Top 12 Companies for ERGs list, as part of our 2017 overall No. 3 ranking among its Top 50 Companies for Diversity
  • LATINA Style magazine selected HACEMOS as 1 of the Top 15 Employee Resource Group of the Year for 2017
  • Association of ERG & Councils ranked InspirASIAN No. 12 of the 2017 Top 25 Employee Resource Groups

Employee Networks (ENs)

We have 12 ENs with a primary focus on specific business or professional development topics. ENs are organized around cross-functional diversity and address business challenges while increasing members’ individual professional development.

AT&T has launched 3 ENs in the past 2 years: AT&T Professional Engineers and Pulse of India in 2016 and AT&T Women of Business in 2017. Of the 12 total ENs, 7 are international and 5 are domestic, with 6 primarily focused on women’s professional development. In 2017, EN members accounted for 24,034 volunteer hours.

The Innovation Pipeline (TIP)

We built The Innovation Pipeline (TIP), an online crowdsourcing platform, to tap the collective imagination of our employees. It is one of the world’s largest corporate crowdsourcing sites, with more than 130,000 members who can share new ideas to deliver an effortless customer experience. The platform allows employees’ ideas to grow; get refined and enhanced; and turn into real products, applications and services for our customers.

Since the TIP program started in 2009, more than 50,000 ideas have come from our employees, more than $45 million in seed funding has been allocated to top products and more than 90 projects landed for development. For example, the DriveMode app, which helps to reduce the dangers of distracted driving, was developed through the TIP process. It’s the brainchild of a call center operator who was personally affected by texting while driving. In addition, NumberSync allows you to make or receive calls using your mobile number, even if your smartphone isn’t handy. It’s the product of an employee who wanted to have a backup emergency phone.

Learn more at The Innovation Pipeline or visit our Innovation issue brief.

1In past years, we included retirees in our reporting of volunteer hours. Beginning with this year’s report, we will be reporting on employee hours only.

2The financial equivalent is determined by using $24.14 per volunteer hour, which is based on the 2016 industry standard from Independent Sector, a leading non-profit organization that determines the financial equivalent for a variety of volunteer initiatives.

3Charity Rewards are used by active employees to recommend an AT&T Foundation grant to a registered 501(c)(3) public charity. The AT&T Foundation reserves the right not to fund certain organizations.

Updated on: Nov 19, 2018