You are here

Human Rights compliance

The objective for 2014 in this area was to continue integrating the issues identified in the existing procedures, with particular emphasis on aspects such as privacy and freedom of expression.

At Telefónica we are convinced that evaluating and managing the impacts of our activity on Human Rights is vital for the sustainability of our business. In 2002 we joined the Global Compact and made public our commitment to respecting Human Rights. Since then, we have worked proactively to strengthen this commitment.

Evidence of this is the fact that, in 2006, respect for Human Rights became one of the pillars of our Business Principles; or that, in 2012, we were pioneers in performing an overall assessment of the impact of our operations, following the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

This assessment was carried out in 16 countries, accounting for almost 95% of countries where Telefónica has operations, and identifying 15 issues(1) listed on the Human Rights table.

Following this assessment, our objective for 2014 was to continue integrating the issues identified in the existing procedures, both at the corporate and local levels, with special emphasis on aspects such as privacy and freedom of expression.

(1) Children's rights include content control and child exploitation.


Following the plan drawn up in 2013, during 2014 we have continued to develop and strengthen the various issues identified at the corporate and local levels, in line with the contexts of the 16 countries where the assessment was performed. The plan's main lines of action were as follows:

  • Continue with the integration of findings, identifying existing policies, strategies and management systems.
  • Continue as part of internal and global working groups to manage key aspects which appeared following assessment: the Privacy and Freedom of Expression Working Group and the Spanish Global Compact Network Working Group.
  • Creation of stakeholder and multi-stakeholder platforms maps.

Human Rights

Issue evaluated


Due Diligence

Non-discrimination  We promote equal opportunities and treat all people fairly and impartially, without discriminating on the basis of race, skin colour, nationality, ethnic origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability or family responsibilities. During 2014 we launched several equality and disability initiatives at a global and local scale as a result of our commitment, enshrined in our Business and Human Rights Principles. Diversity management
Health and safety Safety, health and well-being at Telefónica are among the main priorities for the Company. They are safeguarded through the occupational risk prevention management system, which ensures safety and health via the integration of prevention criteria in our processes and services.

Health, safety and occupational well-being

Collective bargaining and
freedom of association
We guarantee the right of our employees to belong to the union of their choice and will not tolerate any retaliation or hostile action towards employees who take part in union activities. In 2014 we renewed the agreement with Union Network International (UNI), remaining faithful to our commitment to the ILO’s core labour standards relating to freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. Freedom of association and social dialogue
Labour conditions of the 
supply chain
Our Human Rights responsibility extends to our business relationships. We demand high levels of performance in labour, environmental, health and safety conditions of our supply chain, which we see as a way for us to promote and obtain the best results for change and mitigate the risks associated with abusive behaviours in business relations.  Management of the supply chain
Privacy We respect the rights and freedoms of individuals, including the fundamental right to personal data protection. Our commitment is reflected in the design of a new privacy culture based on improving the digital trust of our consumers with mandatory common rules of behaviour for all our regions and entities, and a number of clear and consistent positions in relation to our privacy and data protection practices. Privacy and security
Freedom of expression We are convinced that the best way to achieve overall progress in terms of respect for freedom of expression is through dialogue between governments, industry, civil society (including Human Rights experts), investors, supranational organisations and other affected stakeholders. Telefónica has continued taking part in the Telecom Industry Dialogue group and implementing its guiding principles signed in 2013.  Privacy and security
Children’s rights For more than a decade, we have been active in promoting and respecting children’s rights as part of our business strategy and from various lines of action. During 2014, the Company has focused its efforts on self-regulation as a way to promote the development of products and services that help children and adolescents take full advantage of new technologies.  Good use of the Internet by children
Corruption and bribery Our ethical code, known as our Business Principles, helps us to act in line with the most demanding principles associated with honesty and trust, respect for the law, integrity and respect for Human Rights. It also establishes specific principles aimed at ensuring the trust of our stakeholders.  Ethics and compliance
Healthcare access We are convinced that digital technology enables new models of access to health. The presence of Telefónica in the eHealth industry is already a reality thanks to innovation driven by the Company’s health area with projects in Spain, Argentina, Peru, Brazil and Chile. eHealth
Inclusion and access to ICT At Telefónica we are aware of the potential of digital technologies, so we are working on developing products and services under the criteria of "design for all". "Design for all" aims to ensure that all environments, products, services and systems are used by the largest possible number of people. Digital inclusion
Social innovation We understand that sustainable innovation helps improve and meet current social needs, such as demographic change, the financial crisis, environmental degradation and poverty, while building new relationships or collaborations between various actors and institutions. We work on creating and supporting new products and services that meet these needs. Sustainable Innovation
Language We support the right of minorities to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion and to use their own language. We have developed local initiatives that promote this respect. Diversity management
Access to Education We support education through existing Fundación Telefónica programmes focused on detecting and analysing new educational trends, experimenting with them, understanding and disseminating their implications for technological/pedagogical processes and applying them to the most disadvantaged social environments. Digital education
Deployment and management 
of network infrastructures
Responsible roll-out of the mobile and landline network is critical at Telefónica. We have always taken into account and respected legal compliance, but we have gone beyond this by showing the utmost respect for the preservation of certain protected areas and have reached agreements with countries to provide coverage in disadvantaged areas in remote locations.  Management of electromagnetic fields