Our Actions & Impacts
In 2022, AT&T took the following actions related to human rights:
- We evolved our Human Rights Committee to include a heightened focus on online safety and safeguarding children and added representatives from across our business that intersect with these issues. This ensures a holistic approach to all human rights issues and helps us identify and address human rights risks and opportunities.
- We prohibit forced labor and modern slavery in our operations and supply chain and updated our Principles of Conduct for Suppliers to explicitly include modern slavery among prohibited supplier activities. We collaborate with the Joint Alliance for CSR to audit our supply chain. We also manage suppliers through the TIA Sustainability Assessor to monitor and remedy identified human rights risks.
- Following the sale of DIRECTV in 2021 and the divestiture of WarnerMedia in 2022, AT&T reassessed our material rights, including child’s rights, issues to determine which are most relevant to our remaining telecommunications and internet service business lines.
AT&T executives across the enterprise are responsible for the governance and implementation of our human rights policy as our business continues to evolve. These executives convene to identify and mitigate potential human rights risks:
- Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO): Our Senior Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), who is also our CSO, is responsible for overseeing the AT&T Human Rights Policy. The CSO reports several times a year on CSR issues to the Governance and Policy Committee of the AT&T Board of Directors. Discussion includes any CSR topic, including Human Rights, that is relevant and timely to the business.
- CSR Governance Council: Our CSO regularly convenes the CSR Governance Council, comprised of senior executives and officers from across the company who are responsible for the business areas aligned with our most important environmental, social and governance issues.
- Human Rights Committee: The AT&T Human Rights Committee is led by CSR executives and meets several times a year. It includes subject matter experts from our Global Public Policy, Legal, DE&I, Privacy, Consumer and Global Supply Chain organizations. The group is responsible for monitoring emerging human rights issues, implementing the AT&T Human Rights Policy throughout our operations and conducting related due diligence.
Human Rights Policy
Our commitment to human rights is detailed in the AT&T Human Rights Policy We share this policy with our employees and suppliers and take steps to educate them about our expectations. Our efforts are outlined below:
- Policy: The Human Rights Policy is based on principles and guidelines from internationally recognized organizations such as the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
- Availability & Awareness: We post the AT&T Human Rights Policy online and publicize it in a variety of ways, including in communications with policymakers. It is available to all our employees, and we also communicate our expectations to our suppliers. Our Human Rights Policy is posted on the AT&T Supplier Portal and referenced in our Principles of Conduct for Suppliers, along with other policies and materials that explain our approach to supplier CSR.
- Training: AT&T Supply Chain Sourcing Managers receive annual mandatory training that includes information on the AT&T Human Rights Policy. We continue to assess opportunities to train employees on human rights issues, such as the training we developed in 2020 to help frontline employees better detect and report child sexual abuse material on customers’ devices.
AT&T recognizes that human rights is a multifaceted issue. Our approach to human rights addresses the following issues:
Protecting our users’ privacy is fundamental to the way we do business. We implement protections and offer choices with respect to personal information. For more information, please visit our Privacy issue brief.
As stated in our Human Rights Policy, we realize that the world we serve is diverse in its social custom and cultural traditions, and we respect and embrace those differences. Some of the ways we embed this commitment throughout our business include:
- Codes of Conduct: Our AT&T Code of Business Conduct and Principles of Conduct for Suppliers prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, physical or mental disability, medical condition, marital status, citizenship status, military status or any other characteristic protected by law.
- Supplier Commitment: We aim to work with suppliers that share our commitments to ethical and sustainable business practices, human rights (including labor rights) and diversity.
- Stakeholder Engagement: AT&T is part of the Business Coalition for the Equality Act—a group of leading U.S. employers that support the addition of LGBTQ+ individuals to the list of groups afforded basic protections under U.S. federal law. We also endorse the United Nations Standards of Conduct for Business, which offer a holistic framework of best practices to help combat discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
For more information, please visit our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion issue brief.
Freedom of Expression
We believe that the freedom to access information and the freedom to communicate are essential to the advancement of human potential. At its most basic level, the infrastructure we build and operate is part of a global platform that enables our users to connect and communicate. Through our services and platforms, we make it possible for our users to hold and share opinions freely, seek out others’ ideas and communicate their own. Our approach to freedom of expression is outlined below:
- Our Users: We respect and protect our users’ rights to hold and freely share opinions and access a full range of ideas and information. We believe restrictions on lawful freedom of expression using communications services and the internet will diminish their usefulness, dampen the exchange of ideas and reduce innovation and commercial opportunities.
- Our Services: AT&T has not received a government order to shut down or restrict access to communications networks or services. If we receive such a request, we would evaluate its legality and strive to minimize any impact on customers’ freedom of expression. Such incidents would be disclosed in our semiannual Transparency Report, consistent with the requirements of applicable licenses and local laws.
- International Customers: In countries outside the United States where AT&T provides telecommunications and internet access service, we may receive legal demands from governments to block access to certain websites in their countries or to provide customer information. We do not respond to requests to block websites or to access customer information coming from any foreign or domestic individuals, private entities or self-regulatory bodies unless we receive a valid legal demand. We report on these demands in our AT&T Transparency Report.
For further details about our freedom of expression efforts, read AT&T’s Commitment to Digital Rights.
Technology has become an integral part of children’s realities all around the world—offering access to a world of information and opportunities to connect, learn, play and much more. But these opportunities are not without risks. AT&T recognizes that technology, communications companies, policy makers, and civil society must work to protect the privacy of young users’ personal data and preserve children’s rights to freedom of expression, freedom from online predators and freedom from exploitation. To protect children from harmful content, we provide online safety tools for parents and guardians and work with organizations dedicated to the protection of children online. Our approach to safeguarding children includes:
- Policies & Systems: We continue to evolve our policies and systems to address children’s rights and keep pace with the ever-evolving threats to online safety. This focus includes an assessment of how we manage our facilities and assets, as well as how we develop, market and deliver products and services.
- Online Safety: In 2020, we completed a child’s rights impact assessment across our portfolio of products and services to better understand risks related to potential online child exploitation and child sexual abuse material. The risk assessment used the UNICEF Mobile Operator Child Rights Self-Impact Assessment Tool, as well as industry best practices. Findings were reported to the AT&T Human Rights Committee, which has responsibility for resulting actions. Following the sale of DIRECTV in 2021 and the divestiture of WarnerMedia in 2022, we updated our child’s rights impact assessment to determine the issues most relevant to our remaining telecommunications and internet service business lines.
- Education & Resources: Understanding online safety is complicated for all ages, AT&T ScreenReady® provides digital literacy, digital parenting and online safety resources to help kids and families make safe and positive connections on all screens. In addition, the AT&T Secure Family™ app helps users control their family’s phone use, find family members and block inappropriate content.
- Alignment With U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child: In Mexico, we continued the Calling Home program, which aligns with the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. This program supports migrants fleeing their home countries by providing free telephone calls to let loved ones know they are safe. We partner with the National Institute of Migration to support this effort, and to date, we have installed 32 telephones across 19 states in their migrant centers. We are expanding this program by collaborating with other organizations, such as the Secretary of Labor (Secretaria del Trabajo y Prevision Social) in its Tijuana, Baja California migrant shelter, Centro Para el Migrante Carmen Serdan in Tijuana, and the National System for Integral Family Development (Sistema Nacional para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia) in the state of Tabasco. This program helped AT&T obtain the Social Responsibility Badge from the Mexican Center for Philanthropy and the Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility for the fifth consecutive year.
We conduct due diligence to identify, prevent and mitigate adverse human rights impacts related to our products and services. Our approach to human rights due diligence evolves with our business and includes:
- Guidance: We follow guidance from the United Nations, including the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, in conducting due diligence and risk assessments.
- Reviews: As appropriate, we conduct due diligence to identify human rights risks when we:
- Enter new markets or jurisdictions
- Acquire new firms or lines of business
- Develop new products or services
- Scope: Our reviews examine risks relating to privacy, freedom of expression, freedom of information, labor and the potential for unlawful discrimination.
- Stakeholder Engagement: We engage a diverse set of stakeholders - including employees, suppliers and civil society - when identifying, assessing and mitigating potential human rights risks.
Human Rights in the Supply Chain
As part of our business, suppliers are held accountable to the same standards we expect from our own employees. Our approach includes:
- Contractual Obligations: We have implemented sustainability-focused contract clauses that highlight relevant policies, such as our codes of conduct and the AT&T Human Rights Policy, and legally bind suppliers to adhere to programs in a manner consistent with these policies.
- Principles of Conduct for Suppliers: Our Principles of Conduct for Suppliers articulate our expectations that the products we sell will not contain conflict minerals that directly or indirectly finance or benefit armed groups.
- Accountability: Through our membership with the Joint Alliance for CSR, we conduct periodic reviews, audits and assessments to evaluate suppliers on their sustainability efforts based on survey responses that include questions about their human rights practices.
For more information on human rights in our supply chain, please visit our Responsible Supply Chain issue brief.
Addressing & Remedying Grievances
AT&T is committed to investigating and addressing human rights-related concerns from stakeholders, including customers, employees and suppliers. This commitment is referenced in our AT&T Consumer Service Agreement for wireless and internet customers, our Privacy Policies and our Principles of Conduct for Suppliers. Grievances are managed by the relevant business unit. We take the concerns of our many stakeholders seriously and work promptly to address them.
We are committed to working with governments, industry, customers and civil society to promote human rights around the world in areas associated with our operations. We believe these issues merit a society-wide conversation, so we regularly engage with stakeholders to explain our point of view, share best practices, learn from our peers and identify industry-specific issues. We engage with groups such as:
- United Nations Global Compact (UNGC): AT&T was the first U.S.-based telecommunications service provider to become a signatory of the UNGC and commit to its voluntary framework of principles related to human rights and environmental sustainability. We publish an annual Communication on Progress detailing our managerial approach to UNGC focus areas.
- BSR Human Rights Working Group (HRWG): AT&T is a member of BSR’s HRWG, which was created to develop a safe space for a cross-sector group of companies to openly share best practices, challenges, questions and experiences around implementing the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
- Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT): AT&T is an active supporter of CDT. We regularly participate in CDT’s free expression working group as well as a number of its other formal and informal working groups addressing issues that affect human rights and freedom of expression on the internet.
- Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI): Since 2012, AT&T has participated in GeSI’s Human Rights Working Group to pursue a practical means of implementing the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights across the information and communications technology (ICT) sector, which includes internet providers, telecoms and manufacturers. The working group is also coordinating GeSI’s involvement in the European Commission’s project to develop human rights guidance for the ICT sector.
- Internet Governance Forum (IGF): AT&T participates in the multistakeholder process with the IGF that has historically governed the internet. During these meetings, the company advocates against local data storage mandates and other impediments to the free flow of information.
- Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA): AT&T participates in GSMA’s Sustainability Network to address salient human rights issues for mobile operators throughout their value chains. The network discusses relevant issues and shares practical guidance for companies responding to human rights issues.
- WePROTECT Global Alliance: AT&T is a member of the WePROTECT Global Alliance, an international movement dedicated to ending child sexual exploitation and abuse online to make the digital world safer for children.
- National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC): AT&T is committed to cooperating with local, state and federal law enforcement and child protection organizations, such as NCMEC, in their efforts to protect children online and to pursue child predators and those engaged with online child sexual abuse material.
Our Path Forward
Human rights is an important issue at AT&T. We will continue to uphold our commitment to human rights and address related challenges and risks salient to our business and supply chains.
- Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility
- AT&T AI Guiding Principles
- AT&T Code of Business Conduct
- AT&T Consumer Service Agreement
- AT&T Human Rights Policy
- AT&T Principles of Conduct for Suppliers
- AT&T ScreenReady®
- AT&T Secure Family™
- AT&T Supplier Portal
- AT&T Transparency Report
- AT&T’s Commitment to Digital Rights
- AT&T’s United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) Communication on Progress
- BSR’s Human Rights Working Group
- Business Coalition for the Equality Act
- Center for Democracy & Technology
- Global e-Sustainability Initiative
- Global System for Mobile Communications Association
- International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work
- Internet Governance Forum
- Joint Alliance for CSR
- Mexican Center for Philanthropy
- National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
- UNICEF Mobile Operator Child Rights Self-Impact Assessment Tool
- United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
- United Nations Standards of Conduct for Business
- United Nations (U.N.) Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- WePROTECT Global Alliance
Last Updated: 4/14/2023
Related Priority Topics
- Philanthropic Giving
- Disaster Response
- Bridging the Digital Divide
- Connected LearningSM
- Rural Connectivity
- Workforce Diversity
- Recruitment & Hiring Initiatives
- Equality in Marketing
- Code of Business Conduct
- Employee Training & Awareness
- Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption
- Culture & Engagement
- Compensation & Benefits
- Talent Attraction & Retention
- Global Privacy Program
- Employee Privacy Training
- Advocacy & Transparency
- Supply Chain Resilience
- Supplier Sustainability
- Supplier Diversity