In line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, our policies include a commitment to respect human rights and to use due diligence to identify and address human rights challenges.. This requires a long-term perspective, continuous improvement and stakeholder dialogue. Telenor continuously works to ensure this is integrated across the business, including our business units. To support this process, we introduced a due diligence toolkit as well as training and capacity building to our business units on the relevance of human rights to business, how to assess risk and how to develop mitigating actions. Business units are also expected to communicate their due diligence efforts to Telenor Group on a regular basis. Examples and more details on our approach can be found below.
Freedom of expression and privacy
Telecommunications plays an important role in enabling citizens to exchange ideas and express opinions, which can be beneficial for human rights and democratic development. Telecommunications is a tool that enables freedom of expression and privacy. In exceptional circumstances, telecommunications can be misused by governments, which can then negatively impact human rights.
Telenor acknowledges that there are occasions in which governments must address societal needs, such as national security, requiring telecommunications companies to comply with requests that may impact privacy and freedom of expression. In these instances, Telenor believes that active engagement with governments, NGOs, the media and industry peers to be important in addressing how these issues are handled, verified and reported.
When working with governments, Telenor Group:
- Is committed to avoiding misuse of our products and services
- Handles requests professionally, recognising there are several factors to consider
- Assists in sending public information, but refrains from distributing political propaganda
- Consciously considers human rights in connection with network shutdown and blocking of website requests
- Works to ensure a safe and respectful digital environment
* Our principle is that where national law and international human rights standards differ, we will follow the higher standard; where they are in conflict, we will adhere to national law, while seeking ways to respect international human rights to the greatest extent possible.
Global Network Initiative (GNI)
Telenor is a member of the Global Network Initiative (GNI), and sits on its Board. The GNI is a multi-stakeholder initiative that brings together companies, civil society organizations, investors and academics to address privacy and freedom of expression particularly related to authority requests.
Telenor Group joined the GNI in 2017 together with six other major telecoms companies and vendors as a result of the Telecommunications Industry Dialogue on Freedom of Expression and Privacy (the Industry Dialogue) joining forces with the GNI.
As part of our membership with the GNI, we have committed to implement the GNI Principles and undergo an independent assessment every two years to assess progress on this commitment.
In 2019, Telenor underwent its first GNI Independent Assessment by an external assessor. Following a detailed review of the assessment by the multi-stakeholder GNI Board representing industry, civil society organisations, investors and academics, it was determined that Telenor is making good faith efforts to implement the GNI Principles with improvement over time. The full report can be accessed here.
Telenor believes in employee involvement, through dialogue with employees or their recognised employee representatives. The aim is to utilise the employees´ experiences and insight to influence and support sustainable and satisfying working conditions. We have established a framework on employee involvement promoting partnership based on good and trusting dialogue, such as in relation to acknowledged labour unions or through People Council. This dialogue also contributes to the continued development of sustainable business growth in the Telenor companies.
Since 2012, Telenor Group has further developed the collaboration between Telenor Group management and elected European employee representatives through Telenor Works Council – Europe (TWC-E). This Group meets several times a year and their objective is to enhance information exchange and discussions related to transnational issues that impact employees. In addition, Telenor Group once again signed the Global Frame Agreement with UNI Global Union covering 20,000 Telenor employees in nine countries. The agreement builds upon previous agreement from 2015 and ensures the employee rights to organise. In addition, our commitment to promote diversity & inclusion and fight discrimination is key in the renewed Agreement.
The mobile phone has great potential for contributing positively to people’s lives. Telenor believes that the mobile phone can help stimulate economic and societal development, bringing banking services to the unbanked, health-care services to even the most remote, and contribute to universal education. We call this approach ‘Enable’. In our Enable projects we also seek to include a rights-respecting angle, such as through focusing on children’s rights, women’s rights or the right to health as part of our initiatives.