Lumen was incorporated in 1968 as CenturyLink, but its origins date back to 1930 when it was a telephone company in Louisiana. The company rebranded as Lumen Technologies in September 2020. It provides retail broadband services to 5 million subscribers in the United States. The company is also one of the internet’s largest backbone providers. Its global fibre optic backbone network stretches almost 725,000 kilometres and the company has operations in more than 60 countries.
Through Lifeline, Lumen partners with the United States government to provide discounted access to its broadband service for low-income households and libraries. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company donated high-speed internet access to emergency field medical sites across the United States.
P-TECH is the company’s flagship technical digital skills development initiative. Lumen works with schools and colleges to design courses that provide technical training to students from vulnerable groups. These include girls and students from non–English speaking backgrounds and low-income households. Lumen also offers grants to teachers in schools across the United States to implement technology in their classrooms. P-TECH has supported over 44,000 students across 26 states.
Lumen could consider a dedicated initiative for enhancing digital opportunities for women and girls to help reduce the digital gender gap. The company could also expand on commitments and support for accessibility including reporting the number of its employees with disabilities. Additionally, the company could improve transparency in relation to how the economic value it creates is distributed among its stakeholders.
The company lags peers in relation to programmes for developing basic and intermediate digital skills. It has initiatives for developing technical digital skills and for school connectivity, but the metrics for these initiatives are less transparent than those of other companies. In addition, the company has not commissioned a third-party impact assessment on its existing programmes.
Lumen meets some industry norms in this measurement area, but it is less transparent about privacy and security than other digital companies. It could improve by referencing its commitment to cybersecurity in governance statements or business codes. Lumen could also provide more detail about senior level responsibility for cybersecurity. As a digital company, Lumen should make a high level commitment to child digital safety.
The company lags in open and inclusive innovation compared to peers. There is little evidence of a commitment to open source and standards, initiatives for sustainable development, or support for the tech innovation ecosystem. Lumen has an opportunity to disclose how ethics are considered in its R&D activities.
Core social indicators
The core social indicators assess societal expectations of business conduct that companies should meet if they aspire to be part of a system transformation that leaves no one behind.
Lumen commits to respect human rights and the ILO core labour rights. It also outlines an expectation, in a publicly available policy statement, that its business relationships commit to respecting the ILO core labour rights. Furthermore, the company has a grievance mechanism that is accessible to workers and external stakeholders to raise human rights concerns and complaints. However, Lumen does not disclose a process to identify, assess and take action on salient human rights risks its own operations and business relationships. Moreover, the company does not engage with stakeholders whose human rights could be impacted by its operations.
Lumen publicly commits to respecting the health and safety of workers and it discloses information on the collective bargaining agreements covering its workforce. However, the company does not disclose a policy commitment which states that it does not require workers to work more than regular and overtime hours. Furthermore, Lumen provides no relevant evidence in relation to paying its workers a living wage, such as how it works to support the payment of a living wage by its business relationships. While the company publicly commits to gender equality and women’s empowerment, it does not disclose any time-bound targets on the subject. Lumen has an opportunity to disclose workforce diversity information on more indicators of diversity, such as age, per employee category.
Lumen has a policy prohibiting bribery and corruption, but it does not include anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in its contracts with business relationships. The scope of the company’s tax strategy is limited to the UK. Furthermore, while Lumen discloses the income taxes it pays in three categories – federal, state and foreign – it does not disclose income tax payments for its individual tax jurisdictions. Lumen does not disclose its approach to lobbying and political engagement. Specifically, the company has no public statement indicating that it does not make political contributions, and it does not disclose its lobbying expenditures.