Responsible Supply Chain
Supply chains are not only critical to providing consumers with the goods and services they need—they can also have far-reaching impacts on human rights and the environment. As a global company, AT&T relies on a diverse set of suppliers across geographies.1 We hold our suppliers to the same strict ethical standards to which we hold ourselves, and we work with our suppliers to advance sustainable business practices throughout our supply chain, focusing on policies and programs related to human rights, energy use, climate impact, water use, waste and use of natural resources.
Our Goals & Progress
Supplier Science-Based Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Targets
Work to ensure 50% of our suppliers (covering purchased goods and services, capital goods, and downstream leased assets as a portion of spend) set their own science-based Scope 1 and 2 GHG targets.*
Progress: 53% of suppliers have set science-based GHG emissions targets
In 2022, we met our Scope 3 science-based target two years ahead of schedule by ensuring that suppliers representing 53% of our spend have set science-based Scope 1 and 2 targets.* Indicates a Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi)-approved goal
Sustainable Sourcing Standards
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
Progress: Reached 82% of spend, exceeding our goal for the second consecutive year
AT&T Global Supply Chain (GSC) continues to require suppliers to adhere to our Principles of Conduct for Suppliers through our Supplier Portal and contract agreements. We continue to incorporate sustainability-oriented standards and analyses into sourcing decisions, including adding sustainability clauses into requests for proposal and agreements, training our sourcing managers on the principles of sustainability, and providing updates to sourcing managers on the sustainability performance of existing suppliers.
Supplier Diversity Spend
Reach 21.5% of supplier spend and exceed $10 billion in total procurement expenditures with minority-, women-, veteran-, LGBTQ+- and disability-owned business enterprises.
Progress: Spent $16.3 billion with certified diverse businesses representing 26.3% of overall procurement spend
This breaks out into the following:
- $10.2 billion or 16.5% with minority-owned business enterprises
- $5.4 billion or 8.8% with women-owned business enterprises
- $647 million or 1% with veteran-owned business enterprises
- $9.4 million with LGBTQ+-owned business enterprises
- $11.6 million with disability-owned business enterprises
Responsible Supply Chain Data
|On-site supplier audits (third-party and AT&T-led audits)3||89||84||76||71||79|
|Individuals reviewed for human rights adequacy (third-party and AT&T-led audits)||178,372||304,703||128,590||107,151||133,118|
|Percent diverse suppliers with external social certification||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%|
Our Actions & Impacts
In 2022, AT&T took the following actions related to maintaining a responsible supply chain:
- We engaged with suppliers on setting science-based targets to reduce GHG emissions in their operations and AT&T’s value chain. We met our Scope 3 science-based target two years early with 53% of our suppliers by spend setting their own Scope 1 and 2 science-based targets.
- We held trainings for approximately 200 sourcing managers to improve their understanding of climate change and the importance of reducing their environmental impact. Enhancing our sourcing managers’ understanding will enable them to better work with suppliers to support AT&T’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals and their own ESG journeys.
- We produced training materials for suppliers to teach companies about calculating emissions and setting targets to reduce their emissions and will roll them out to suppliers for the 2023 reporting period.
- We continued to create opportunities for diverse suppliers to participate in the sourcing process. AT&T Communications vetted and provided feedback to more than 1,000 diverse suppliers and sponsored or participated in roughly 250 virtual supplier diversity outreach events. We also continued our supplier financing programs, which included 96 certified women-owned business enterprises, 91 certified minority business enterprises and 10 certified disabled-veteran enterprises in 2022.
Supply Chain Management
We have suppliers around the world4 engaged across all our operating units. Our AT&T Communications business unit works with more than 20,000 suppliers to ensure a geographically diverse and resilient supply chain that reduces our risk in unforeseen situations. In 2022, we spent more than $60 billion on goods and services worldwide through our GSC organization.
- Board of Directors: The highest level of oversight of all AT&T activities, including those of GSC, is provided by the Board of Directors. For more information about the Board of Directors and its committees, please see our Investor Relations website.
- Executive Vice President—GSC: Top managerial responsibility for supply chain management lies with the Executive Vice President—GSC, who is a member of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Governance Council. Our CSR Governance Council is led by our Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) and comprises senior executives representing business areas linked to CSR topics deemed most material by our stakeholders. Each senior executive member represents their entire department. The council collaborates on a broad range of issues and includes a variety of perspectives.
- Global Supply Chain: The GSC team manages the daily activities of AT&T’s supply chain, including request for proposals/request for quotes negotiations, contracting, contingency planning, and ongoing supplier management and evaluation.
- Risk Management: Our 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 our supply chain. Risk Management is responsible for establishing insurance requirements for contractors/vendors and reviewing insurance clauses within contracts.
AT&T expects suppliers to adhere to high social standards, reduce the environmental impact of their products and services, support energy efficiencies and respond to AT&T’s sustainability-related information requests. We communicate these expectations and hold suppliers accountable to these standards through the following:
- Principles of Conduct for Suppliers: We outline our expectations for suppliers on a variety of issues in our AT&T Principles of Conduct for Suppliers (Supplier Principles), which align to international standards such as the International Labour Organization, and cover topics such as freedom of association, collective bargaining, forced labor, child labor and discrimination. The Supplier Principles also encompass all ESG considerations, such as health and safety, supplier diversity and the circular economy.
- AT&T suppliers should hold their subcontractors to the Supplier Principles. We require all suppliers and subcontractors to comply with all applicable laws and regulations, both domestic and foreign.
- Suppliers must verify that they follow the Supplier Principles through a supplier self-attestation process every 18 to 24 months. To ensure compliance, we also survey a subset of 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 department(s). The suppliers’ risk levels also determine the survey frequency.
- The AT&T Supply Chain Sustainability Officer is available to consult with suppliers on any questions about the Supplier Principles.
- Environmental, Health & Safety Expectations: As outlined in GSC contractual agreements, AT&T expects suppliers to demonstrate robust environmental, health and safety (EHS) policies and practices and operate in a manner consistent with our CSR practices. Suppliers are expected to provide a safe and healthy workplace that meets international and national standards, laws, rules and regulations. They also agree to share appropriate health and safety information and training with their employees. We expect suppliers to minimize the impact of emergency events by proactively developing business continuity plans and response procedures.
- Preferred Supplier Program: Our Preferred Supplier Program recognizes suppliers that demonstrate a commitment to diversity and sustainability and prioritizes those companies in our sourcing decisions. We review suppliers on multiple criteria, such as reported diversity and inclusion data, participation in third-party sustainability assessments, and commitment to a science-based target.
Supply Chain Due Diligence
Through our due diligence process, AT&T screens potential suppliers prior to contract execution and monitors contracted suppliers to ensure that we do not conduct business with entities that pose risks to our operations, brand or reputation. We use a variety of approaches—including online and subscription resources—to assist in assessing and monitoring our suppliers for indications of financial, security and other risks. Our process includes:
- Initial Engagement: During our initial engagement process, suppliers complete an onboarding questionnaire. We deploy applicable risk mitigation, such as contract language and other controls, based on their responses and the presence of any high-risk indicators. We also perform business- and risk-specific compliance monitoring, as appropriate.
- Continuous Screening: We screen suppliers against the restricted parties lists published by the U.S. and other governments around the world to ensure we are not engaged with sanctioned individuals or entities. Our procurement and contracting processes also include a high-risk activities questionnaire that informs risk-management clauses in our supplier contracts.
- Sharing Concerns: Suppliers and their employees can contact AT&T regarding issues, such as social responsibility standards or concerns of noncompliance, at email@example.com.
Strategic Supplier Sustainability Assessments
We annually engage our strategic suppliers in sustainability assessments. Through these assessments, in conjunction with supplier evaluations, we have exceeded our 2025 goal to integrate sustainability performance metrics into sourcing decisions for 80% of our spend for the second consecutive year.2 Information about our supplier assessments is outlined below:
- CDP Climate Change Questionnaire: We utilize the CDP Climate Change Questionnaire as part of our sustainability assessments. CDP responses provide a holistic view into our suppliers’ sustainability performance. The survey includes questions around areas such as sustainability program governance, risks and opportunities, emissions methodology and data, biodiversity and more. We also request that our suppliers provide additional information about emissions allocated specifically to AT&T, product-level emissions data and areas for collaboration. In 2022, 226 suppliers reported data to AT&T through CDP. For more information about how we manage our Scope 3 emissions, please visit the CDP Supply Chain website and our Climate Change & Greenhouse Gas Emissions issue brief.
- Joint Alliance for CSR (JAC): AT&T is a member of the JAC, an association of telecom operators aiming to verify, assess and develop suppliers’ CSR practices in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry. The JAC process is a coordinated on-site audit and development program, based on a common methodology. JAC shares resources, including audit results and corrective actions, among members to promote CSR best practices within the global ICT supply chain. AT&T is committed to JAC’s collaborative audit initiative and conducts audits annually within our supply chain.
- JAC utilizes a common audit framework which includes:
- Facility evaluation of production areas, office areas, storage facilities, distribution centers and any supplier-provided employee dormitories.
- Management interviews of production, EHS, quality, human resources and payroll manager(s).
- Confidential worker interviews of permanent, temporary and subcontracted labor across 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, and health and safety training documentation and certifications.
- The JAC audit framework addresses 10 focus areas during the audits, such as child labor, forced/bonded labor, business ethics and more. If we learn a supplier may be at risk of noncompliance with CSR standards, we engage the supplier through JAC with on-site CSR audits conducted by globally recognized, independent auditors at the suppliers’ manufacturing and assembly facilities. JAC bases their on-site audit methodology on SA 8000 and ISO 14001 standards. Through JAC, AT&T uses Mobile Worker Surveys (MWS) to supplement on-site factory audits. MWS enables two-way communication directly between auditors and factory workers without management intervention. This survey aims to increase insight and visibility into potential human rights issues that would otherwise go unreported. Our 2022 findings include the following:
- JAC audited 793 factory locations, including 41 AT&T suppliers, impacting 133,118 individuals. AT&T led a combination of 6 audits and MWS of AT&T suppliers’ factory locations.
- JAC identified 549 corrective actions and closed 51% of all open and newly identified corrective actions—including 61% rated as major, 30% rated as minor and 10% flagged for priority.5
- Corrective actions identified as a result of the audits are managed with the relevant suppliers to ensure resolution is implemented. If a factory receives a result that raises concern, they may be reaudited after one year.
- JAC utilizes a common audit framework which includes:
Conflict minerals pose human rights risks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and adjacent countries. We actively seek to address this through the following processes and actions:
- Supplier Principles: Our Principles of Conduct for Suppliers set expectations that the products we sell will not contain conflict minerals that either directly or indirectly finance or benefit armed groups. We require our suppliers to comply with applicable laws, including any applicable conflict mineral rules.
- Audits: AT&T continuously engages our business units and suppliers to identify products which fall under Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulation for conflict minerals and require further due diligence. We reserve the right to audit for any known instances of noncompliance. If corrective action is warranted due to noncompliance with our conflict minerals expectations, we work with our suppliers to correct or remedy any identified noncompliance issues and will suspend or terminate contracts with suppliers that fail to demonstrate a commitment to our Supplier Principles.
- Industry Collaboration: We support industry efforts to address conflict minerals, such as through our membership in the Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative and our participation in the JAC program.
- Oversight: The Executive Vice President—GSC of AT&T Communications has ultimate managerial responsibility for conflict minerals. The GSC team ensures applicable contracts reference our Supplier Principles and our expectation that suppliers do not use conflict minerals in the products they provide to AT&T.
Due diligence and reporting are essential to protecting human rights, and AT&T is committed to meeting our obligations under the SEC Conflict Minerals Rules. We have taken steps to determine our reporting requirements and continue to monitor potential reporting requirements by:
- Conflict Minerals Program: This program 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 rules implementing that act (SEC Conflict Minerals Rules).
- Oversight: We have a dedicated working team that addresses day-to-day activities associated with complying with the SEC Conflict Minerals Rules. This includes a governance committee that reviews and provides general guidance on conflict minerals compliance activities. AT&T’s due diligence process follows the recommendations set forth by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas.
Supply Chain Resilience
In recent years, the world’s supply chain has faced unprecedented disruptions, highlighting the importance of improved supply chain resiliency. To meet such challenges, we’re enhancing our capabilities to proactively respond to and manage risks by improving our visibility into the impact on our suppliers. For example:
- Supply Chain Mapping: We have implemented an extensive data collection program that has allowed us to map and better understand where our suppliers concentrate manufacturing of key products and components. With this improved visibility, we will continually evaluate our supplier base to ensure we are achieving an industry-leading cost structure balanced with risk mitigation and resiliency.
- Internet of Things Solutions: We use Internet of Things solutions to make our supply chain more efficient through data-driven insights derived from near-real-time monitoring of vehicles, drivers and trips. These solutions enhance our ability to track items, improve inventory management and streamline logistics operations.
- Diversification: Geopolitical events such as tariffs and trade restrictions enacted over the past few years helped us ensure our supply chain was resilient and helped prepare us for the supply chain impacts of COVID-19. For example, 2018 tariffs imposed on goods originating from China incentivized our suppliers to diversify their manufacturing footprint and reduce reliance on a single country.
Supplier Environmental Sustainability
As part of our efforts to reduce our environmental impact within our value chain, we work with suppliers individually to help them set their own science-based Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG targets. In 2022, we hosted a training for suppliers that emphasized the importance of using reporting and sustainability disclosures to reduce the environmental impact of our suppliers’ operations, with participants representing over $7 billion in annual spend.
AT&T is proud to be a long-standing leader in supplier diversity. We were one of the first corporations in the U.S. to have a supplier diversity program, which was launched in 1968 as a response to the civil unrest and economic disparities many diverse businesses were encountering. Over the last 54 years, we have invested $230 billion with businesses and enterprises owned by minorities, women, service-disabled veterans, LGBTQ+ persons, and people with disabilities. In 2022, we continued to meet our annual goal to exceed 21.5% of supplier spend and $10 billion in total procurement expenditures, reaching $16.3 billion. 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, detailed below:
Supplier Diversity Programming
Our Supplier Diversity Program managers are dedicated to working with our sourcing teams and business units to identify areas of opportunity and include diverse businesses in competitive bids. In addition, our robust supplier program ensures diverse suppliers are identified, considered and mentored throughout the sourcing process. Examples of these efforts include:
- Strategic Supplier Outreach: We interview prospective suppliers at regional and national supplier diversity events and share important information and criteria about doing business with AT&T. We work with several diversity business organizations, such as the National Minority Supplier Development Council, for targeted supplier identification. In 2022, AT&T Communications vetted and provided feedback to more than 1,000 diverse suppliers and sponsored or participated in roughly 250 in-person and virtual supplier diversity outreach events.
- Prime Supplier Program: Our Prime Supplier Program is one of the most essential efforts within AT&T’s Supplier Diversity Program. We work with our largest suppliers to increase the diversity of their subcontractors. The program has a dedicated supplier diversity manager who works with our prime suppliers to set diversity goals, develop diversity annual plans and solutions for improvement, and track and review results.
- Supplier Financing Programs: Our supplier financing programs allow small, diverse businesses to leverage the credit power ranking/rating of AT&T. Our suppliers benefit by freeing up additional cash flow at a low interest rate that many are not eligible to receive at their financial institutions. In 2022, our supplier financing programs supported 205 diverse suppliers, which included 96 certified women-owned business enterprises, 91 certified minority business enterprises and 10 certified disabled-veteran enterprises.
To learn more about our supplier diversity programs, including Diversity Supplier Advocacy and our Business Development and Education programs, visit the AT&T Supplier Diversity Program website.
Supply Chain Recognition
In 2022, our supplier programs received the following awards:
- DiversityInc – #2 Top Corporations for Supplier Diversity
- Greater Women's Business Council – Top Corporations Award
- National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) – The Forefront 50: Top Corporations for Minority Businesses
- American Indian Chamber of Commerce of California (AICCCAL) – Warrior Award-Corporation/Agency
- Dallas Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council – Corporation of the Year and Executive Champion of the Year
- National Association of Minority Contractors–DFW – Golden Shovel: Community Outreach and Diversity Advocacy Award
- New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Supplier Diversity Development Council – COVID-19 Responder Award
- New York & New Jersey Minority Supplier Development Council – National Corporation of the Year
- Women’s Business Enterprise Council-Pacific – Corporation of the Year
- CDP – 2022 CDP Supplier Engagement Leaderboard
Our Path Forward
Supply chain issues are complex and resolving them will require collaborations across global industries. AT&T is committed to doing our part to address human rights and environmental risks associated with supply chains. We will continue to enhance the diversity of our suppliers, monitor our supply chains for ESG risks and support our suppliers in reducing their climate-related impacts through the following efforts:
- In 2023, we will roll out training materials to suppliers on calculating emissions and setting targets to reduce their climate impact. This will help suppliers progress in their own ESG journeys and better support AT&T’s ESG goals.
- American Indian Chamber of Commerce of California
- AT&T Human Rights Policy
- AT&T Investor Relations website
- AT&T Principles of Conduct for Suppliers
- AT&T Supplier Diversity
- CDP Supply Chain
- Dallas Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council
- Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative
- Greater Women's Business Council
- Joint Alliance for CSR
- National Association of Minority Contractors–DFW
- National Minority Supplier Development Council
- New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Supplier Diversity Development Council
- New York & New Jersey Minority Supplier Development Council
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
- Validated Assessment Program
- Women’s Business Enterprise Council-Pacific
- Our GSC organization manages the supply chain of AT&T Communications and AT&T International operating companies. This represents the largest and most complex portion of our supply chain. Because of the scale of this work, this issue brief reflects the efforts of GSC unless otherwise noted. Supplier diversity metrics represent the effort of our entire U.S. operations. AT&T’s Global Supplier Diversity team administers the Supplier Diversity program on behalf of all AT&T affiliates (herein referred to as “AT&T”). This report includes results for all affiliates of AT&T Corporate.
- This goal is focused on network, consumer equipment and corporate services spend, and does not include video content and entertainment companies.
- This number reflects JAC and Validated Assessment Program audits. JAC members, including AT&T, were not able to audit as many facilities in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In non-embargoed countries.
- Data is rounded.
Last Updated: 4/21/2023
Related Priority Topics
- Climate Change Governance
- Climate Change Strategy
- GHG Emissions Inventory
- Workforce Diversity
- Recruitment & Hiring Initiatives
- Equality in Marketing
- EHS Policies
- Assessments & Inspections
- Occupational Health & Safety
- Code of Business Conduct
- Employee Training & Awareness
- Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption
- Product Sustainability
- Packaging & Paper
- Refurbishment & Recycling
- Water Footprint
- Water Conservation Efforts