AT&T is committed to conducting business with the highest ethical standards and integrity, with an emphasis on corporate responsibility and sustainability. Our suppliers are held accountable to the same high ethical, environmental, social and governance standards.
1 Supplier diversity and sustainability spend and performance excludes content and programming spend. The management approach and data detailed reflect the activities of the AT&T Global Connections and Supply Chain organization within AT&T Communications.
2020 Goal: We will lead our supply chain to improve its social and environmental impacts by integrating sustainability performance metrics into our sourcing decisions for 80% of our spend. 2 2 This goal is focused on network, consumer equipment and corporate services spend, and does not include video content and entertainment companies.
2025 Goal: We will work with our industry peers to develop and promote adoption of sustainability metrics that will transform the environmental and social impact of technology supply chains.
Targets & Progress
2020 TARGET: Incorporate sustainability-oriented standards and analyses into our sourcing decisions with strategic suppliers.
PROGRESS: In 2019, AT&T Global Connections and Supply Chain continued to require suppliers to adhere to our Principles of Conduct for Suppliers through our Supplier Portal and supplier contract agreements. We led 5 on-site supplier factory audits as a member of the Joint Audit Cooperation (JAC). We continue to incorporate sustainability-oriented standards and analyses into sourcing decisions, including the insertion of sustainability clauses into RFPs and agreements, training our sourcing managers on the principles of sustainability and providing updates to sourcing managers on the sustainability performance of existing suppliers.
2025 TARGET: Help establish clear, agreed-upon industry sustainability metrics to measure the environmental and social impact of technology supply chains.
PROGRESS: To evaluate our suppliers on social and environmental criteria, we work with multiple industry organizations, including:
- TIA-QuEST Forum: AT&T helps lead the working group advancing the adoption of the TIA Sustainability Assessor tool, which we also use with our own suppliers.
- CDP: AT&T requests our strategic suppliers to respond to the annual CDP supply chain survey, which we use to gather their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data, reduction goals and associated progress.
- Joint Audit Cooperation (JAC): We work with JAC to conduct 5 corporate social responsibility audits of our suppliers’ manufacturing facilities, the results of which are shared with JAC member telecommunications companies.
- Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC): AT&T uses guidance documents provided by the SPLC, which provide information on sustainable purchasing standards, tools in the market and guidance for conducting RFx evaluations.
2025 TARGET: Promote the use of sustainability metrics in industry sourcing.
PROGRESS: AT&T suppliers use the CDP supply chain and TIA Sustainability Assessor metrics to report GHG emissions and sustainability progress, which allows AT&T and other TIA companies the ability to benchmark supplier emissions and work with suppliers to make improvements.
2025 TARGET: Develop and follow an industry roadmap toward truly sustainable performance among our suppliers.
PROGRESS: AT&T moves our suppliers along an industry roadmap with CDP, JAC and TIA-QuEST Forum to continuously improve measurements, benchmarking and results in sustainable supplier performance.
Suppliers are a key part of our business and therefore must be part of our approach to sustainability and diversity. We have suppliers around the world (in non-embargoed countries) representing all types of trades, engaged across all our operating units. AT&T Communications works with more than 20,000 suppliers around the world. The reach of our supply chain allows AT&T the opportunity to streamline operations, reduce long-term costs and limit overall environment impact.
We continue proactive work with our suppliers to advance sustainable business practices throughout our supply chain, focusing on energy use, climate impact, human rights, water use, waste and natural resource use. AT&T is committed to promoting healthy, safe and inclusive working conditions throughout our supply chain.
AT&T also works to increase the participation of minority-, woman-, veteran-, LGBTQ+- and disability-owned business enterprises in our supply chain. We also encourage subcontracting opportunities for these businesses by requiring supplier diversity participation from our prime suppliers.
The supply chain of AT&T Communications and AT&T Latin America, 2 of our operating companies, is managed by our Global Connections and Supply Chain (GCSC) organization, representing the largest and most complex portion of our supply chain. Because of the scale of this work, this issue brief reflects efforts of GCSC, unless otherwise noted. In 2019, GCSC centralized the management of high-risk suppliers representing certain high-risk factors and optimized reverse logistics strategy and operations.
Managing Our Supply Chain
Top managerial responsibility for supply chain management lies with the Executive Vice President of GCSC, who also sits on the Corporate Social Responsibility Governance Council ("Council"). The Council is led by our Chief Sustainability Officer, with oversight from the Public Policy and Corporate Reputation Committee of the AT&T Board of Directors.
Our supply chain management strategy includes incorporating Citizenship and Sustainability as well as Supplier Diversity clauses into agreements and RFPs, training sourcing managers on the principles of sustainability and diversity, and providing updates to sourcing managers on supplier sustainability and diversity performance. We strive to ensure conformance with the AT&T Principles of Conduct for Suppliers ("Supplier Principles") using the following approaches:
- The Supplier Principles are posted on the AT&T Supplier Portal, and are publicly accessible to all AT&T suppliers as well as any potential future suppliers. Our Supplier Principles and management systems are also applicable to non-tier 1 suppliers.
- Our general agreements and purchase order terms include Citizenship and Sustainability as well as Diversity clauses.
- We conduct Strategic Supplier Sustainability Assessments and corporate social responsibility (CSR) audits and assessments. Our CSR audit and assessment program is conducted through our membership in the Joint Audit Cooperation (JAC) and applies to tier 1, 2 and 3 suppliers.
- We started implementing a Preferred Supplier Program in 2019 to recognize suppliers that demonstrate a commitment to all aspects of corporate social responsibility in the areas of diversity and sustainability.
Supplier Engagement in Sustainability
We regularly engage employees of our suppliers through our membership in the JAC. If we learn a supplier may be at risk of non-compliance with social responsibility standards, we engage JAC to conduct on-site CSR audits by recognized, independent third-party auditors at suppliers’ manufacturing and assembly facilities using a common audit framework.
Agreements managed by GCSC contractually obligate suppliers to conduct business with an abiding respect for corporate citizenship, sustainability and human rights (“Citizenship and Sustainability”), and conduct their business operations in a manner consistent with AT&T’s Citizenship and Sustainability practices. Additionally, AT&T employs requirements that set the expectation for suppliers to adhere to high social standards, reduce the environmental impact of their products and services, support energy efficiencies and respond to sustainability-related information requests from AT&T.
Supplier Sustainability Principles
We outline our expectations for suppliers on a variety of issues in our Supplier Principles. The Supplier Principles encompass all environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations, including the following:
- Sustainable Business Practices
- Environment, Health and Safety
- Supplier Diversity
- Freedom of Association
- Conflict Minerals
- Labor Practices
- Human Rights
- Circular Economy
- Conflicts of Interest
- Company Property and Resources
- Confidential Information and Privacy
We also expect suppliers to hold their subcontractors to the Supplier Principles and we require our suppliers and their subcontractors to comply with all applicable laws and regulations, both domestic and foreign. If a supplier has questions about the Supplier Principles, senior sourcing managers may engage the AT&T Supply Chain Sustainability Office to consult with the supplier.
AT&T expects suppliers to demonstrate robust environmental, health and safety (EH&S) policies and practices. Suppliers should also provide a safe and healthy workplace that meets international and national standards, laws, rules and regulations, and provide appropriate health and safety information and training to their employees. We expect suppliers to minimize the impact of emergency events by proactively developing business continuity plans and response procedures.
We require suppliers to verify that they follow the Supplier Principles through a supplier self-attestation process. To ensure compliance with the Supplier Principles, we survey a subset of the suppliers based on their risk level, which is determined by reviewing their response to a high-risk activities questionnaire completed by our sourcing managers in cooperation with the respective AT&T business unit(s). The suppliers’ risk levels also determine the frequency with which we conduct the surveys.
Please refer to the Supplier Principles for the latest information on these expectations.
Strategic Supplier Sustainability Assessments
We evaluate our suppliers against the scores in TIA Sustainability Assessor reports developed with the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). The TIA Sustainability Assessor and associated reports enable suppliers to continuously improve sustainable best practices with:
- A 10-factor model that provides structure for users,
- Several business segment options that refine appropriate questions,
- Individual reports with a prioritized set of recommendations to optimize sustainability programs,
- Support for sustainability planning aligned with the organization’s strategy,
- Shifted emphasis from compliance to excellence and
- Benchmark data against others in industry.
Suppliers completing the TIA Sustainability Assessor are requested to respond to questions regarding their policies and management practices:
- Environmental management
- Resource efficiency optimization
- Carbon footprint and ozone depletion
- Corporate social responsibility
- Supply chain management
- Stakeholder engagement
- Organizational engagement and capabilities
- Eco design
- End-to-end delivery
- Circular economy
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Audits & Assessments
AT&T is a member of JAC, an organization that facilitates collaboration among peer telecom companies and information and communication technology (ICT) suppliers to verify and audit supply chains on areas such as labor practices, human rights, health and safety, ethics and the environment.
Through our JAC membership, CSR audits are conducted by recognized, independent third-party auditors at suppliers’ manufacturing facilities using a common audit framework. Member companies share audit results of suppliers, which promotes continuous improvement while reducing supplier audit fatigue. In 2019, JAC audited 124 factory locations, including 5 AT&T-led third-party audits of AT&T suppliers’ factory locations, and conducted human rights reviews for more than 300,000 individuals.
The JAC audit framework includes the following:
- Facility evaluation of production areas, office areas, storage facilities, distribution centers and dormitories.
- Management interviews of production, EH&S, quality, human resources and payroll manager(s).
- Confidential worker interviews of permanent, temporary and subcontracted labor – including workers of both genders, new workers and workers from various departments and shifts.
- Review of relevant company documents necessary to understand whether the supplier is conforming to common CSR principles and standards. This may include personnel records, proof-of-age documentation, timesheets, payroll records, environmental permits, emergency response plans, health and safety training documentation and certifications.
The 10 main areas of focus, all of which are addressed during the audits, are:
- Child labor
- Forced/bonded labor
- Health and safety
- Freedom of association
- Disciplinary practices
- Working hours
- Wages and compensation
- Business ethics
AT&T also manages supplier risk via the TIA Sustainability Assessor, through supplier narratives on policies and management practices that:
- Prohibit child labor
- Prohibit forced labor
- Protect freedom of association
- Prohibit discrimination
- Prohibit physical coercion and inhumane disciplinary practices
- Ensure health and safety
- Limit the number of working hours
- Address wages and compensation
- Prohibit corruption and bribery
Supply Chain Due Diligence
The AT&T supplier due diligence process focuses on vetting suppliers prior to contract execution and thereafter monitoring to ensure that AT&T isn’t conducting business with entities that pose risks to its operations, brand or reputation. This process involves the use of appropriate manual, online and subscription resources to assist in assessing and monitoring our suppliers for indications of financial, security and other risks. During our initial engagement process, suppliers complete an onboarding questionnaire. Based on their responses and the presence of any high-risk indicators, applicable risk mitigation, such as contract language and other controls, are deployed. Business- and risk-specific compliance monitoring is also performed, as appropriate.
We also have a screening process for restricted parties that identifies potential sustainability risks in the supply chain. This program screens customers, suppliers and other trading partners against more than 600 restricted-party lists from governments worldwide. Additionally, our procurement systems and contracting processes include the use of a high-risk activities questionnaire that identifies which contract clauses are required to mitigate high-risk engagements.
The AT&T risk management organization is responsible for preserving our assets and shareowner value by minimizing the financial effects of accidental losses, including activities related to the AT&T supply chain. Risk management is responsible for establishing insurance requirements for contractors/vendors and reviewing insurance clauses within contracts.
As a large device retailer, we’ve actively sought to address the human rights issue of conflict minerals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and surrounding areas through increased transparency in our supply chain. Our Supplier Principles confirm our expectations that the products we sell will not contain conflict minerals that either directly or indirectly finance or benefit armed groups. If corrective action is warranted due to non-compliance on conflict minerals guidelines, AT&T works with our suppliers to correct or remedy any identified non-compliance, and we suspend or terminate contracts with suppliers that fail to demonstrate a commitment to our Supplier Principles.
AT&T has put in place the following ongoing activities to identify potential reporting obligations regarding conflict minerals:
- A comprehensive Conflict Minerals (CM) Program, which serves as the documented framework in which AT&T performs the steps required to determine the applicability of and compliance with Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the SEC’s rules implementing that act (SEC Conflict Minerals Rules).
- A working team that addresses the day-to-day activities associated with complying with the SEC Conflict Minerals Rules.
- A governance committee that reviews and provides general guidance on conflict minerals compliance activities.
AT&T has taken the necessary steps to determine the extent to which we may have reporting obligations under the SEC Conflict Minerals Rules. The Executive Vice President – Global Connections and Supply Chain of AT&T Communications has ultimate managerial responsibility for conflict minerals. To date, AT&T has not had a reporting obligation pursuant to the SEC Conflict Minerals Rules. AT&T will continue to execute the CM Program annually to identify any potential changes to our filing status.
We also support industry efforts to address conflict minerals. AT&T has engaged in hearings with the SEC on this topic. We remain involved in this issue through our membership in the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and our participation in the JAC program. Through continued collaboration with suppliers, we are committed to the responsible sourcing and use of these minerals.
AT&T Supplier Diversity connects certified diverse minority-, woman-, veteran-, LGBTQ+- and disability-owned business enterprises with opportunities to provide products and services to AT&T around the world. We believe diverse suppliers bring value to our company through their unique skills and innovative ideas. Their efforts help us deliver world-class products and services to meet our customers’ diverse needs. Our goal for diversity performance is 21.5% of total procurement expenditures, 15% for minority-owned business enterprises, 5% for woman-owned business enterprises and 1.5% for service-disabled veteran–owned business enterprises. Participation in the supplier diversity program requires third-party certification issued by an approved organization or agency, and a copy of the certification is required to do business with AT&T as a diverse supplier.
AT&T has been a longstanding leader in supplier diversity by identifying and promoting diverse businesses for contract opportunities as both prime suppliers and subcontractors. We are proud to be one of the first corporations in the U.S. to have a supplier diversity program – launched in 1968 as a response to the civil unrest and economic disparities many diverse businesses were encountering. As we adopt new and emerging technologies critical to our business initiatives, we’ve made targeted efforts to ensure that diverse businesses are part of that transformation. The supplier diversity program is also instrumental in helping prime suppliers increase the use of minority-, woman-, veteran-, LGBTQ+- and disability-owned businesses in their supply chain for subcontracting opportunities.
Our supplier diversity program managers are dedicated to working with our sourcing teams and business units to identify specific areas of opportunity and include diverse businesses in competitive bids. In addition to identifying, considering and mentoring diverse suppliers throughout the sourcing process, we are committed to creating business education opportunities and other business development initiatives. Our program is structured around internal and external initiatives and is guided by 4 areas of focus:
- Strategic Supplier Outreach: Our strategic outreach involves interviewing prospective suppliers at regional and national supplier diversity events and sharing important information and criteria about doing business with AT&T. We work with several diversity business organizations for targeted supplier identification. In 2019, AT&T Communications sponsored and/or participated in roughly 100 supplier diversity outreach events and meetings in 16 states and the District of Columbia.
- Diverse Supplier Advocacy: We advocate for current and prospective diverse suppliers in their quest to provide products and services to AT&T. In our advocacy, we work closely with our sourcing organization, business unit partners and prime suppliers to identify and influence opportunities for consideration and inclusion of diverse suppliers.
- Engaging Our Prime Suppliers: We work with our prime suppliers to maximize use of diverse suppliers as subcontractors. Key to this effort are our requirements that prime suppliers provide an annual plan outlining their proposed use of diverse suppliers and report their diversity subcontracting spend monthly.
- Business Development and Education: We provide opportunities for diverse suppliers to participate in executive education and training programs through the sponsorship of formal mentoring and business development programs. We also host and participate in workshops, seminars and 1-on-1 counseling sessions.
AT&T’s supplier diversity team has conducted comprehensive outreach to connect with hundreds of diverse businesses across the U.S. To achieve maximum effectiveness, we partner with chambers of commerce and business organizations to connect with diverse businesses.
AT&T is committed to utilizing suppliers that advance gender equity through their products and services. We do that by embedding our supplier diversity program in virtually every aspect of the business. For example, as a global enterprise, we seek out and highlight our women business enterprise suppliers who provide AT&T products such as IT services, construction and engineering, marketing and advertising, consultants, training services, etc. Our program seeks to drive accountability by rewarding suppliers who demonstrate strong diversity and inclusion values, which enables AT&T to make a positive impact on the economic growth of diverse communities.
We also encourage our prime suppliers to engage minority-, woman-, veteran-, LGBTQ+- and disability-owned businesses throughout our value chain in both overall spend and the number of contracts awarded to diverse subcontractors. The Prime Supplier Program aims to help prime suppliers create meaningful diverse supplier subcontract goals and provide quarterly reports. Our team conducts monthly reviews and, when necessary, action plans to ensure goal attainment.
Additionally, AT&T Supplier Diversity sponsors a signature diverse supplier mentoring program called Business Growth Acceleration Program (BGAP), an initiative to help diverse-owned businesses thrive. AT&T offers sponsorships to a select group of qualified business leaders who are certified as a diverse supplier with an AT&T-recognized certification agency, and who have at least 3 years of ownership experience and annual revenue of $1 million or more. The 5-month program is comprised of group sessions conducted online and in person. Classes provide strategies on how to improve business operations, enhance abilities to win corporate contracts and improve the growth of their businesses to handle larger projects. The practical, hands-on learning approach enables each participant to immediately apply concepts learned to their individual business challenges. At the conclusion of the program, CEOs have the opportunity to present a business pitch to AT&T leaders. In 2019, 10 diverse businesses were selected to participate.
AT&T also offers scholarships to diverse business executive/senior leaders as part of our commitment to provide educational support. AT&T also provides financial support through our supplier financing programs, allowing small diverse businesses to utilize and leverage the credit power ranking/rating of AT&T. Our suppliers benefit by freeing up additional cashflow at a very low interest rate that many are not eligible to receive at their financial institutions. In 2019, participants in our supplier financing program included 41 certified women business enterprises, 45 certified minority business enterprises and 6 certified disabled-veteran enterprises.
Supplier Sustainability & Diversity Awards
The AT&T Supplier Sustainability and Diversity Awards honor suppliers that make outstanding contributions to our sustainability and diversity efforts. In 2019, we revised the award recognition process. In addition to recognizing suppliers for Diversity Excellence and Sustainability Excellence, AT&T awarded Suppliers of the Year for excellence in both areas. Read about our Supplier Sustainability and Diversity Awards winners:
- 2018 Supplier Sustainability and Diversity Awards
- 2017 Supplier Sustainability and Diversity Awards
- 2016 Supplier Sustainability and Diversity Awards
- 2015 Supplier Sustainability Awards
In 2019, our supplier diversity program received 11 national and 6 regional awards, including:
- DiversityInc Top 12 Companies for Supplier Diversity, Ranked #3
- Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) America’s Top Corporation for Women Business Enterprises
- National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) CEO of the Year
- National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) Top Corporation for Veterans Businesses
- U.S. Veterans Magazine Best Companies for Veteran Businesses
- National Business Inclusion Consortium (NBIC) Best of the Best Program for Initiative of the Year
- Omnikal – Omni50 America’s Top Inclusive Majority Owned Businesses for Supplier Diversity
- Greater Women’s Business Council (GWBC) Top Corporation for Women Business Enterprises
- Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council (DFWMSDC) Corporation of the Year
- Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council (DFWMSDC) Executive Champion of the Year
- Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council (DFWMSDC) Buy Those That Buy Us
- United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) Million Dollar Club
- Hispanic Network Magazine Best of the Best for Latino Businesses
- Black EOE Journal Best of the Best for Top Supplier Diversity Program
- Minority Business News USA Magazine All-Stars of Supplier Diversity
- San Francisco Times Top 20 Companies for Supplier Diversity in the Bay Area, Ranked #2
- Southern California Minority Supplier Development Council (SCMSDC) 2019 Community Visionary Award
We collaborate with others in the industry and across our supply chain to develop more efficient products and practices. Examples of our engagement include:
- Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)-QuEST Forum: Working with our industry group, TIA-QuEST Forum, we helped to lead the sustainability working group advancing the evolution and use of the TIA Sustainability Assessor and the sharing of best practices. We hosted monthly working group conference calls that included presentations by member companies sharing best practices. For more information, visit the QuEST Forum Sustainability Initiative and TIA Sustainability websites.
- Joint Audit Cooperation (JAC): AT&T is a member of JAC, an organization that facilitates collaboration among peer telecom companies.
- Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC): AT&T is an active member of SPLC. SPLC evaluates sustainable purchasing standards and tools in the market and publishes sustainable purchasing guidance for conducting RFx evaluations. These guidance documents are then being increasingly used to inform our RFx initiatives.
- CDP: Working with CDP’s supply chain program, more than 200 of our suppliers reported on GHG emissions in 2019. Using industry-accepted methods, we gather and analyze data on these suppliers’ emissions, reduction goals and progress. See more information at the CDP Supply Chain website and in our Greenhouse Gas Emissions issue brief.
WarnerMedia Ethical Sourcing
The WarnerMedia Board of Directors has ethical sourcing guidelines, which apply to vendors from whom we purchase directly and to whom we license our images, brands and characters. The guidelines establish expectations for the vendors’ business operations as they relate to WarnerMedia and its businesses and reflect our commitment to conduct business in an ethical manner and in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. WarnerMedia’s Internal Audit department reviews contracts with vendors during its division and departmental audits to confirm whether the guidelines have been incorporated.
Through its Supplier Diversity Development policy, WarnerMedia develops diverse businesses, including vendors, contractors and consultants, as sources for purchasing goods and services. We aim to develop working relationships with these suppliers and provide opportunities to expand their business with us. Additionally, WarnerMedia’s Second-Tier program expands supplier diversity efforts by requesting that our primary contractors utilize and report spending with diverse suppliers in the fulfillment of their contract. The WarnerMedia Supplier Diversity website serves as the primary resource tool for employees and diverse suppliers.
Our WarnerMedia supply chain also includes contracted production studios and talent, and their subcontractors. As part of an overall industry initiative focused on diversity in film and television production, the major studios, including Warner Bros., are looking to advance the effort by broadening the connections between their respective production organizations and the diverse supplier community. The goal is to increase the understanding of supplier capabilities that could be leveraged. To this end, WarnerMedia has hosted a series of Supplier Diversity Showcases where select suppliers are being invited to exhibit their capabilities to a collection of production and post-production stakeholders representing each studio. Additionally, a group of diverse suppliers were invited to participate in an industry discussion regarding diversity certification and aspects unique to production companies.
We believe in the value of collaborating and sharing information to improve responsible sourcing efforts across the globe. WarnerMedia and its divisions are members of various industry working groups, including the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) and the Toy Industry Association (TIA). WarnerMedia also collaborates with other content producers to develop and maintain the Green Production Guide, an open source and freely available industry resource designed to offer a curated vendor database, as well as a standardized production toolkit, to manage and measure sustainable production efforts.
We also identify and engage suppliers that provide eco-friendly products through vendor vetting, product testing and other sustainable procurement strategies. We have established relationships with eco-vendors in cities where we film, and we engage local retailers that carry sustainable products, such as responsibly sourced plywood used for set construction. Our procurement team also works to source eco-friendly craft services and catering products, such as canned water and compostable materials, and to increase the availability of electric vehicles and hybrids.