Human Rights

Our responsibility

We acknowledge our responsibility to respect human rights, as laid out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and other international standards. As a UN Global Compact signatory, we have committed to respect and promote human rights and to make sure that we are not complicit in human rights abuses. Our aim is to know and show our human rights impacts, risks and opportunities, and to use these insights to manage those impacts. With good faith efforts, our ambition is to improve over time and to be considered an industry leader in human rights through strategic priorities, transparency and stakeholder collaboration.

Our approach

The “Statement of Materiality” references a number of international guidelines on human rights and establishes that we intend to engage with stakeholders in a way that ensures the highest degree of ethical business practices and behavior.

Our commitments are further laid out in our Code of responsible business conduct and in specific group policies on e.g. customer privacy, freedom of expression and surveillance privacy, and people. Human rights requirements on suppliers are covered in the Supplier code of conduct.

These policy commitments apply to Telia Company AB, its subsidiaries and joint operations as their own binding commitments. Telia Company strives to fully adopt the policy commitments in all operations in which we have management control. We also use our influence to promote the policy commitments in other companies where we have ownership interests.

On the group level, work is coordinated by a cross-functional working group which facilitates policy coordination, shared learning, analysis, business integration and alignment, among other things. Within each Responsible business area, working group members regularly report to the Governance, Risk, Ethics and Compliance (GREC) forum and to the Audit and Responsible Business Committee of the Board.

Understanding our impact

We undertake human rights due diligence and more in-depth human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) to better understand local and group-level impacts, risks and opportunities.

To share insights, we have published HRIA reports based on assessments of our operations carried out by the independent non-profit organization BSR in eight of our markets. The reports contain conclusions and recommendations and can be found here. More information is available in the 2016 Annual & Sustainability Report, “Human rights impact assessments”.

Based on these reports, we defined internal group level actions and local action plans for our operations in region Eurasia and in Lithuania. An action plan for our operations in Sweden is planned to be defined in 2018. Building on the insights gained from HRIAs in the eight markets already assessed, we are considering carrying out additional HRIAs.

Human rights risks

Telia Company strives to avoid complicity in human rights violations and seeks to provide for or cooperate in their remediation. We strive to promote and ensure channels for transparent and open communication where all internal and external stakeholders can raise concerns without fear of retaliation or reprisal. See Corporate Governance, section “Group-wide governance framework.”, “Whistle-blowing process”. We also aim to provide fair investigation and grievance mechanisms.

To understand how we manage risks related to salient human rights, see “Risks and uncertainties.”

While they all have a human rights element, some Responsible business focus areas are more closely related to our human rights work. Below is a summary of the key human rights topics within these focus areas.

Next steps

Since our aim is to know and show our human rights impacts, risks and opportunities and to manage those impacts, we will continue to prioritize and implement actions based on the HRIA action plans, including training employees in human rights and other Responsible business focus areas. We will also continue to engage in shared learning with external stakeholders that have the same aims, and have defined potential for improvement regarding providing human rights remedy.


Key topics

Our response and collaborations

Anti-bribery and corruption

  • Risk mitigation and remediation of corruption and unethical business practices
  • Corruption risks related to land rights and site acquisition
  • Robust anti-bribery and corruption program
  • Review of standards and controls, and corruption risk assessments of acquiring mobile network sites

Children’s rights

  • Understand how children’s rights are impacted by our operations
  • Fighting child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online

Customer privacy

  • Meeting upcoming EU General
    Data Protection Regulation
    (GDPR) requirements
  • Group and local GDPR projects
  • Implementation of supplier IT directives to ensure third party adherence to our and GDPR requirements

Freedom of expression and surveillance privacy

  • Societal needs to counter e.g. terrorism, hacking and hate speech
  • Transparency as to government requests
  • Governments’ direct access to our networks and systems
  • Group-common process for escalation and challenging, including transparency on, unconventional requests
  • Law Enforcement Disclosure Reporting as to conventional requests
  • Global Network Initiative (GNI)

Responsible sourcing

  • Suppliers meeting basic requirements, particularly within health and safety
  • Safe third party customer data handling
  • Supplier code of conduct and specific supplier IT directives
  • On-site audits and supplier training
  • Joint Audit Cooperation

Employee practices

  • Anti-discrimination and harassment
  • Diversity and equal opportunity
  • Health and safety
  • Clear policy statement on wanted behavior
  • Employee engagement surveys with follow-up and action plans based on findings
  • Cooperation with employee representatives and labor organizations
  • The Global Deal



Church of sweden sees fundamental progress

The Church of Sweden sold its interests in Telia Company in 2013 after reports of misconduct in connection with the company’s entry into Uzbekistan. In November, the Church decided to classify Telia Company as eligible for investment as their review has shown that the company now meets the investor’s sustainability requirements.

“Telia Company has in a relatively short period of time acquired a high internal capacity in sustainability issues. The new management and the board of directors have worked to prevent problems and handle the challenges they encountered in Central Asia. The new management has shown excellent leadership in several difficult areas,” says Sara Nordbrand, the Church’s Head of Sustainability.

“We seek to work proactively together with our stakeholders to understand the human rights impacts of our operations and to find ways to increase our leverage. One example is our and the Church of Sweden’s active participation in the Global Network Initiative where human rights organizations, academics, investors and companies jointly address issues regarding freedom of expression and privacy,” says Patrik Hiselius, Senior Advisor Digital Rights at Telia Company.

Our aim is to know and show our human rights impacts, risks and opportunities, and to use these insights to manage those impacts.