Ethics in the digital world
Ethics is no mere abstract concept for Swisscom. It is the frame of reference for everything Swisscom has been doing for many years. The public’s interest in an ethical economy has risen dramatically – and stakeholders’ demands that companies act with integrity are justified. Swisscom is therefore devoting a new section to ethics in this report.
Swisscom acts in such a way as not to disadvantage its customers, the economy, the environment, the general public, social groups, individuals or itself. It acts in the knowledge that it maintains its competitive position not only through offering convincing products and services – acting with integrity and on the basis of ethical principles is just as important for its market position. Swisscom is committed to transparency and open dialogue with the public. It also encourages its employees to ask themselves on a daily basis whether their decisions and actions comply with the norms and values of the company and society. Swisscom is only economically successful if there is harmony between the company and society – in other words, if Swisscom remains close to its customers and employees and acts responsibly, reliably and trustworthily. The trust placed in it places an obligation on Swisscom in its day-to-day operations and makes a significant contribution to its market success, credibility and reputation.
As its main shareholder, the Confederation expects Swisscom to pursue a corporate strategy that is, to the extent that it is economically possible, both sustainable and committed to ethical principles.See www.swisscom.ch/ziele_2018-2021 (in German)
Swisscom lives up to this demand for legality and legitimacy in its actions through its commitment to the environment, society and the economy, in both the analogue and digital worlds. Swisscom’s ethical standards are intended to ensure that the company and all its stakeholder groups benefit equally. Swisscom is aware that there are conflicting objectives, but actively addresses these and strives to collaborate to identify solutions that accord with its corporate culture.
Ethical standards affect the entire company. Swisscom trusts all its employees and expects them to act with integrity. Management sets an example in this regard. The Head of Group Communications & Responsibility, who participates in the meetings of the extended Group Executive Board, is also the person responsible for Swisscom’s ethics. Since the year under review, he has been responsible for ethical issues and impact assessments relating to Swisscom’s business activities; he scrutinises issues concerned with integrity, raises awareness among employees and conducts an open dialogue with them. We have set ourselves the goal of establishing this dialogue in suitable, existing or new, internal and external channels in the coming year. If employees feel that a business activity may be incompatible with the values and standards of Swisscom or society as a whole, they can report this at any time without fear of retribution.
Swisscom embodies its responsibilities through its commitment to greater sustainability. Its 2025 Sustainability Strategy creates added value for society and the environment and stands for ethically responsible entrepreneurship. Among other things, Swisscom makes a contribution to energy efficiency and climate protection, aims to improve the quality of people’s everyday lives in a smart manner, advocates fair working conditions in Switzerland and abroad, promotes the development of its employees and is committed to fostering better media skills in Switzerland. All these commitments are binding on Swisscom employees in their daily work. Projects and commitments are examined to ensure that they are not only profitable, but also meet Swisscom’s high sustainability standards and hence have a positive impact in the long term.
Swisscom actively participated in public discussions on the following issues during the year under review:
- Human rights: the protection of human rights is an integral part of Swisscom’s corporate culture. Swisscom aligns itself with international standards and supports a solution-oriented approach, in the interest of the common good and in the interest of the company.
- Code of Conduct: bearing responsibility, complying with rules, being honest and reporting violations – Swisscom’s Code of Conduct contains the minimum expectations that the Board of Directors and CEO have of the managers and employees of Swisscom and its Group companies.
- Corporate Responsibility governance: transparency and clear responsibilities characterise responsible corporate governance at Swisscom, which defines the rules in accordance with which Swisscom is managed, organised and controlled. Principles of communication: employees adhere to the Swisscom values and principles of communication in their day-to-day communication with one another, with customers and also in media and public relations work.
- Transparency and dialogue: Swisscom seeks to establish contact with the public. It maintains an open dialogue with interested stakeholder groups on specific topics relating to its core business. The following summary shows those contact measures that are open to the general public as part of Swisscom’s commitment to ethics and integrity. Swisscom employees also have the option of anonymously reporting suspected unfair business practices via a publicly accessible whistle blowing platform. The incoming notifications are handled by the Internal Audit department.
- Sustainable product design: Swisscom’s CR team is in continuous dialogue with product and service developers. It scrutinises whether the respective project meets sustainability standards and is in line with the values of the company and society at large. The sustainability label also distinguishes measures that help Swisscom customers live a sustainable lifestyle. Smart ICT, energy-saving and child protection functions in Swisscom products and services help customers reduce their electricity consumption, avoid CO2 emissions, work flexibly and use digital media safely and efficiently. Finally, Swisscom’s Lean Quality Management formulated requirements for sustainable product design in 2018.
- Responsible data handling: smart data provides opportunities for society, for the economy and for Swisscom as a company. Swisscom is aware of the trust its customers place in it when it comes to the handling of data. That is why Swisscom has set up a data governance procedure that systematically draws up measures and processes to establish and promote a data culture. The aim is to ensure that Swisscom processes data in a legally compliant and legitimate manner. Swisscom became a board member of the Open Data Association in 2018. This is an example of how the company is involving itself in the socio-political discourse surrounding the public availability of data.
- Artificial intelligence and ethics: Swisscom introduced the topic of artificial intelligence and the associated ethical aspects to a broad range of customers for the first time at three major events in 2018. A selected panel of experts from science, technology, research and industry discussed ethical issues relating to artificial intelligence, its applications and the likelihood of a “technical singularity” occurring.