With a history spanning 140 years, Singtel is one of Asia’s leading communications technology groups. Incorporated under its current name in 1992 and headquartered in Singapore, the company has a 22% stake in Singapore Post and owns Optus, a major telecommunications operator in Australia. Singtel also partly owns large mobile companies in India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. Taking subsidiaries of these companies into account, Singtel has a presence in 21 countries.
Singtel is involved in an innovative programme Donate Your Data, to make digital technologies more affordable. Under this programme, which the company offers through its Australian subsidiary Optus, mobile subscribers can donate their unused data to disadvantaged youth. Singtel is a leader in terms of its initiatives for users with disabilities. For example, it co-chairs the Singapore Business Network on Disability, which aims to advance equitable employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The company is also transparent about how it distributes the value it creates among its stakeholders, and it reports its tax payments and its employment in its main markets.
Singtel educates senior citizens on how to use smartphones and social media apps through its Digital Silvers programme. Launched in September 2020, this programme is especially relevant in Singapore, considering it has one of the most aged populations in Asia. Additionally, the company’s #DQEveryChild programme teaches primary school children digital skills, including how to protect themselves online.
Singtel follows several best practices in cybersecurity. It has high-level oversight of cybersecurity, a security incident response team and information security management certification. Further, the company reports the data breaches it experiences. Singtel is also one of the leading companies in its approach to enhancing child online safety. It supports the Singapore Government with mechanisms to report child online harm and partners with global initiatives on child online protection.
Singtel contributes to the tech innovation ecosystem through its venture capital investments and other support for start-ups. It also discloses information on its research and development (R&D) locations and meets industry norms by reporting its carbon emissions data. Additionally, Singtel discloses the percentage of women it employs in tech roles.
Singtel’s programmes to increase internet access for disadvantaged youth and women are a leading practice in ensuring digital inclusion. However, the company can carry out a third-party impact assessment for both programmes to evaluate the potential for scaling and replicating them.
Next to its basic digital skills programme for the elderly, the company can consider supporting initiatives to increase intermediate and technical digital skills among vulnerable and underrepresented populations.
Singtel can consider making a high-level policy commitment to support open source initiatives and standards, as well as undertake activities in this area. The company also has an opportunity to support sustainability research. Furthermore, it can enhance its support for inclusive and ethical innovation by disclosing how it evaluates ethical implications when undertaking R&D activities.
Core Social Assessment
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.
Singtel has a publicly available policy statement committing to respect human rights. The company also requires its business relationships to commit to all the ILO core labour rights. Furthermore, it has a grievance mechanism accessible to both workers and external stakeholders to raise human rights concerns and complaints. However, it does not disclose a process to identify, assess and act on salient human rights risks in its own operations and in its business relationships. The company describes the stakeholders it engages with in general, but it does not specify whether it engages with stakeholders whose human rights could be affected by its activities.
Singtel publicly commits to respecting worker health and safety and requires this from its business relationships. The company does not specify that workers are not required to work more than regular and overtime hours. It also does not explicitly state that it requires this from its business relationships. Singtel provides no relevant evidence in relation to paying its workers a living wage and does not publicly commit to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. The company does, however, provide the salary ratio of women to men per employee category, as well as a breakdown of employee diversity by age group and gender per employee category.
Singtel has a policy prohibiting bribery and corruption, and it includes anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in its business relationship contracts. Furthermore, the company has a global tax strategy. It discloses the income taxes it pays in Singapore and for its Australian subsidiary Optus, but it does not disclose its income taxes payments in all of its individual tax jurisdictions. Moreover, Singtel does not disclose its approach to lobbying and political engagement. Specifically, it has no publicly available statement indicating that it does not make political contributions, and it does not disclose its lobbying expenditures.