Telstra is an Australian-headquartered telecommunications company founded in 1975. It offers mobile and fixed broadband services, data and IP solutions, and network applications and services. Telstra serves 18.8 million mobile customers and provides 960,000 fixed line connections in Australia. It also provides business services globally, with data centres in Hong Kong, Singapore, the US and the UK.
Telstra is a leading example in its efforts to improve access to digital technologies, with multiple programmes targeted at vulnerable groups across Australia. Its Access for Everyone programme helps low-income users access network services through discounted plans. Furthermore, since its inception in 2016, Telstra’s Safe Connections initiative has provided more than 33,000 victim-survivors of domestic violence in Australia access to safe and secure communications. It also provides products that accommodate the needs of users with disabilities. It is one of the few companies in the benchmark to have a dedicated accessibility action plan. In addition, Telstra reports its community investment.
Telstra provides support for digital skills development for vulnerable people across Australia. The company’s Deadly Digital Communities initiative provides digital skills training to remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Telstra also partners with the non-profit Young Change Agents to provide entrepreneurial skills training for Australian youth. Its Healthy Country AI (artificial intelligence) initiative focuses on training indigenous rangers and community practitioners in digital technologies and data analysis to adaptively manage their lands. Additionally, the company partnered with a secondary college in Australia to provide technology kits to low-income households.
The company follows good practices in monitoring, responding to and reporting on information security incidents. Furthermore, Telstra partners with the Family Online Safety Institute and works with the eSafety Commissioner to promote child online safety.
Telstra demonstrates leadership in open innovation through its commitment to open source initiatives, participation in the work of standards bodies and partnership with universities on digital inclusion related research. It contributes to the tech start-up ecosystem through its venture capital arm Telstra Ventures as well as its accelerator programmes Muru-D and T4G. The company also contributes to sustainability research and aligns its own goals with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Furthermore, Telstra has developed various innovative products and services to reduce environmental impacts, including smart modems, electric vehicles and an e-cycle programme. Telstra endorses the Australian Government’s AI Ethics Framework.
Telstra can enhance transparency on its senior-level oversight of cybersecurity and provide a public commitment to uphold cybersecurity. While the company reported on government requests for user information in the past, this was not disclosed during the reporting period under assessment.
Telstra has an opportunity to contribute to big data by providing public data sets. It can also increase its contribution to the tech innovation ecosystem by providing support for start-ups, especially whose founders are people from underrepresented groups, or for social and non-profit start-ups.
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.
Telstra has a publicly available policy document wherein it commits to respecting human rights. While Telstra has a compliance programme regarding modern slavery risk, it does not disclose a process to identify and assess the other salient human rights risks in its own operations and in its business relationships. Moreover, the company describes the stakeholders it engages with in general. It has a grievance mechanism accessible to both workers and external stakeholders to raise human rights concerns and complaints.
Telstra publicly commits to respecting worker health and safety, and it places health and safety expectations on its business relationships. Telstra also discloses the proportion of its workforce covered by collective bargaining agreements. Telstra is committed to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment and has time-bound targets on the subject. In relation to workforce diversity, the company provides a breakdown of employees in different employee categories by gender, but can also disclose this information for other indicators of diversity, such as age group.
Telstra has a policy prohibiting bribery and corruption, and it includes anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in its business relationship contracts. However, it does not have a grievance mechanism for stakeholders to raise relevant concerns and complaints. Although the company has a global tax strategy, it does not disclose its income tax payments in its individual tax jurisdictions. Telstra also does not disclose its approach to lobbying and political engagement. Specifically, the company has no publicly available statement indicating that it does not make political contributions, nor does it disclose its lobbying expenditures.