Through a regular materiality assessment, we systematically engage stakeholders and capture their view into what is most important for our company. The assessment provides critical clarity about how our company should focus our resources, reporting and communications. For the purposes of this effort, AT&T follows the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) definition of material aspects as those “that reflect the organization’s significant economic, environmental and social impacts; or substantively influence the assessments and decisions of stakeholders.”
In 2016, we worked with GlobeScan to conduct our 4th materiality assessment. With GlobeScan’s guidance, we created a list of 36 sustainability-related topics based on existing materiality themes, GRI topics, industry reporting, senior level interviews with our CSR Governance Council and media analysis. We then collected input from internal and external stakeholders to understand the relative importance of the topics.
In total, 1,475 stakeholders representing AT&T employees, consumers and professional stakeholders from the United States and Latin America provided insight into the prioritization of these topics through surveys and interviews. When direct engagement was not feasible, we relied on other resources (such as websites, sustainability reports and other communications) as proxies to glean insight into their priorities. We averaged respondents’ rankings of each topic and plotted the results along the Y-axis, representing importance to stakeholders and consumers.
Internally, we interviewed 358 employees, including 45 executives and 291 managers, to assess and rank the impacts of our topics on business success. We averaged their responses and plotted the topics on the X-axis.
The full results of our assessment are shown below in a table format. While all of the identified issues shown are viewed as material, the general positioning of these issues illustrates the relative degree of importance for AT&T, with those in the top-right quadrant ranking highest for both our stakeholders and our business success. We will monitor and assess all topics and report on them at least annually. Topics ranking higher with our stakeholders will promote more outside engagement and frequent communication. Top business priorities will necessitate engagement with our various business units. And, the more highly ranked a topic is, the more our reporting will incorporate relevant goals, key performance indicators and other programmatic details.
For each topic, we provide information through our external website and/or a collection of 20 issue briefs. Each issue brief reports key performance indicators, GRI data (where applicable and available), our management approach of the issue and details of company action.
Through analysis of our material topics, 9 broad themes emerged. These themes help identify connections among our material topics. Please read below for an overview of these themes.
- Reliable & Affordable Network Access
Click on the blue italicized material topics for more information: Network and data security; Network reliability; Affordability; Accessibility of products and services; Deployment to rural and underserved areas; Internet governance
We are building our network for reliability, speed and overall performance to enable tomorrow’s new products and services. AT&T invests in and upgrades our network to help bring customers all the benefits they expect. As innovation introduces new opportunities every day, we are also helping to increase digital inclusion for rural areas and undersubscribed populations. We are helping to meet the internet connectivity needs of rural and undersubscribed consumers in 3 ways:
- Our low-cost home internet program;
- Expanding internet connectivity to largely rural consumers; and
- Educating and empowering consumers to get the most out of their connections.
- Employee Investment
Click on the blue italicized material topics for more information: Investing in education & high-tech skills development; Investing in employees, Employee compensation & benefits, Work-life balance & healthy lifestyles; Employee diversity; Occupational health and safety; Philanthropy & employee volunteering; Freedom of association
Talented, engaged employees are key to our company’s success, and we strive to be the industry’s employer of choice by investing in our people. Competitive pay and benefits attract and retain a highly qualified workforce.
We’re also helping our people grow and follow their desired career paths. As we work to inspire a culture of continuous learning, we have training designed for all employees throughout their career: new hire training, continuous training for a current role and skills transformation training for a potential future role.
AT&T employees have a strong sense of community and want to get involved, and we understand that helping our employees support the causes they believe in can boost employee satisfaction and create a happier and healthier workplace. We also have employee groups to help employees grow professionally and personally and to serve their communities.
- Customer Safety & Security
Click on the blue italicized material topics for more information: Network and data security; Customer privacy; Online safety; Promoting safe use of products and services; Wireless communications and health; Responsible content; Hazardous or harmful materials in products (toxics)
Customers count on us to protect their information and respect their privacy. We have a firm commitment to the privacy and security of our customers and users, as evidenced by our privacy policies and Code(s) of Business Conduct. AT&T also uses strong safeguards to keep customer data confidential and secure. We are continually improving security through active research and development programs, influencing (via standards organizations) and tracking of industry developments, and the evaluation of new security technologies and products.
We are also dedicated to empowering our customers to use our products and services in a safe and responsible manner. To empower consumers to enjoy the benefits of AT&T technology while avoiding potential safety pitfalls, AT&T has created a number of online safety initiatives that include education campaigns, parental control solutions for mobile phones and media content, as well as collaborations with non-profits and government entities.
- Customer Enablement
Click on the blue italicized material topics for more information: Affordability; Products and services that enable social and environmental benefits; Accessibility of products and services; Online safety; Deployment to rural and underserved areas
Our greatest potential to enable our customers is through the power of our network. By 2020, we aim to enable AT&T customers to lead more sustainable lives by expanding access to technology, further integrating sustainability solutions into products and measuring the impacts. And, by 2025, we aim to enable carbon savings 10 times the footprint of our operations by enhancing the efficiency of our network and delivering sustainable customer solutions.
Through our IoT for Good and 10x initiatives, we highlight multiple industry focus areas and solutions that can transform the ways we — and our customers — care for society and the planet. We work to collaboratively develop solutions that demonstrate positive impacts in the areas of health, accessibility, disaster relief and more. We also offer several products that have the ability to create efficiencies and environmental savings for customers.
- Mobilized Learning
Click on the blue italicized material topics for more information: Affordability; Investing in education & high-tech skills development; Products and services that enable social and environmental benefit; Accessibility of products and services; Online safety; Deployment to rural and underserved areas
Technology is making it easier for everyone — regardless of age, gender, income or geography — to learn anytime, anywhere. AT&T invests in education and job training to help develop a skilled and diverse workforce that can better prepare our company — and our country — for the future. Through the AT&T Aspire initiative, we help provide access to the education and training people need to get and keep good jobs.
We support mobilized learning through a variety of channels, including the AT&T Aspire Accelerator, which aims to support innovations that have the potential to help every student achieve a bright, successful future — exponentially and at scale. To prepare more people with the skills needed for high-demand tech jobs requiring technological expertise, we’re also working with external organizations to create opportunities for specialized online degrees or certifications.
- Environmental Stewardship throughout the Value Chain
Click on the blue italicized material topics for more information: Products and services that enable social and environmental benefit; Energy efficiency of products; Environmentally responsible supply chain; Company energy use; Alternative energy uptake; Company water use; Impact of company fleet
Climate change is shifting the way we do business. We face new challenges and opportunities in the transition to a more efficient world, and our technology is central to helping society mitigate its environmental impacts and improve resiliency. We must continually strive to reduce our own energy intensity and greenhouse gas emissions, and increase resiliency throughout our operations.
We work closely with suppliers, customers and community groups to improve the sustainability of our products and services throughout their life cycle. We also outline our expectations for suppliers in our Principles of Conduct for Suppliers, which covers topics such as eliminating wasteful practices, being more energy efficient, reducing total cost of ownership, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, using more sustainable packaging and creating end-of-life recycling alternatives.
- Ethical and Responsible Supply Chain
Click on the blue italicized material topics for more information: Environmentally responsible supply chain; Bribery and corruption; Supplier diversity; Freedom of association; Supply chain human rights practices
We are committed to conducting business with integrity and ethics, with an emphasis on corporate citizenship and sustainability. As part of our business, suppliers are held accountable to our same environmental, social and economic standards.
We outline our expectations for suppliers on a variety of issues in our Supplier Principles, including environment, health and safety, diversity, ethics, freedom of association, conflict minerals, labor practices and human rights. In addition, suppliers are expected to hold their subcontractors to the Supplier Principles. We require our suppliers and their suppliers to comply with all applicable laws and regulations, both domestic and foreign.
AT&T also communicates our Human Rights Policy directly to all suppliers and expects them to recognize and abide by it.
- Transparency and Governance
Click on the blue italicized material topics for more information: Customer privacy; Responsible marketing and transparency of offers; Internet governance; Transparent public policy engagement; Freedom of expression; Bribery and corruption
We hold ourselves to the highest standards, and that means always doing the right thing. It also means operating with integrity, transparency and honesty in everything we do. The Code of Business Conduct (COBC) covers a wide range of topics related to ethics and compliance, including diversity and nondiscrimination, conflicts of interest, customer and employee data privacy, and our commitment to the environment. Our COBC is the codification of our core values, and it lays out the guidelines for how we do business, operate and interact with customers, suppliers, owners and each other.
Like all companies, we are required by law to provide information to government and law enforcement entities, as well as parties to civil lawsuits, by complying with court orders, subpoenas, lawful discovery requests and other legal requirements. Learn more in our Transparency Report.
Our recently updated Political Engagement Report implements an enhanced layer of public accountability for the support of issues that impact our business, our employees and our customers.
- Waste Reduction
We seek to minimize waste throughout our operations — from the buildings we occupy to the devices we sell. We also continually strive to expand our scope of waste reporting (which includes e-waste, general solid waste, investment recovery and regulated waste programs) and reduce the environmental impacts of our waste.
At AT&T, we aim to create productive uses for our waste at the end of its life and work closely with suppliers, customers and community groups to improve the sustainability of our products and services throughout their life cycle. We are also committed to handling e-waste in a responsible manner.
Global Reporting Initiative | GRI Standards Disclosures: 102-44, 102-46, 102-47