2.5 Significant non-financial performance indicators
United Internet AG believes that its entrepreneurial activities are not solely restricted to the pursuit and implementation of economic objectives, but also involve a commitment and responsibility to society and the environment. United Internet assumes this responsibility in a variety of ways. The most important aspects with regard to the Management Report, sustainable business policy, employees, green IT, and social responsibility, are summarized in the following sections.
Further information on these and other sustainability topics are included in the Non-Financial Statement 2019 (Sustainability Report) of United Internet AG – based on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework – which will be published at the beginning of April, 2020 at www.united-internet.de/en/investor-relations/publications/reports.html.
Sustainable business policy
United Internet AG is committed to pursuing a sustainable business policy. This sustainability is illustrated in particular by its high level of investment in customer relationships, in customer satisfaction, in service, product and network quality, in security and data privacy, and in customer trust/recommendation behavior – and thus also in sustainable growth.
Customer relationships and customer satisfaction
In its fiscal year 2019, United Internet once again invested heavily in customer growth and raised the number of fee-based customer contracts organically by 890,000 to 24.74 million (prior year: 23.85 million).
Apart from these customer contracts in the reported product lines, United Internet holds a further 0.37 (prior year: 0.41) million contracts without basic monthly fees and service provider contracts (volume-based tariffs/MSP tariffs), as well as 0.03 (prior year: 0.06) million broadband connections in the phased-out T-DSL/R-DSL product lines.
In addition to these fee-based contracts, United Internet operates 37.59 (prior year: 37.00) million active free accounts at its data centers that are refinanced via advertising revenue.
In total, therefore, United Internet operates 62.73 (prior year: 61.32) million customer accounts globally.
Over the past few years, the high-value contracts with basic fee of the reported product lines have been greatly expanded, while the less valuable contracts with no monthly fee, and the old contracts with T-DSL and R-DSL, have been reduced (exception: 2017 due to 0.49 million contracts without basic monthly fee/old contracts resulting from the Drillisch takeover). The number of customer relationships via ad-financed free accounts – which also offer United Internet potential for up- and cross-selling – were steadily improved over the past years.
Multi-period overview: development of customer relationships
Growth in million
Contracts with basic fees
Contracts without basic fees / old contracts
Total customer accounts
(1) Including 0.34 million contracts with basic fees from the takeover of home.pl and an opposing 0.08 million from contract streamlining
(2) Including 3.35 million contracts with basic fees and 0.49 million contracts without basic fees / old contracts from the takeover of Drillisch as well as including 1.87 million contracts with basic fees from the takeover of STRATO
(3) Including 0.25 million contracts with basic fees from the takeover of World4You
In addition to attracting new customers, retaining existing customers and promoting customer loyalty are the most important factors for expanding our customer base. The key control criterion for United Internet is customer satisfaction. We have therefore established structures and processes in all segments to continuously and sustainably measure, analyze, and ultimately improve customer satisfaction with the aid of key performance indicators (KPIs). Customer surveys, market research, and analyses, e.g., of postings on social media platforms, are carried out on a regular basis in order to collect feedback from customers. Depending on the segment, customer satisfaction is measured and controlled using various KPIs such as customer sentiment or the recommendation rate/net promoter score (NPS).
The findings from these customer satisfaction analyses are used to identify areas for improvement and then translated into concrete measures to increase customer satisfaction (e.g., in the field of service or product quality).
As of October 2018, for example, all customers of the IONOS brand have the opportunity to contact a personal consultant free of charge as a central point of contact for all questions relating to products, their contracts, and their online business success. In this way, IONOS can accompany freelancers and companies through all phases of their development – from registering a domain and setting up a first website, to setting up shop systems and dedicated servers, to using enterprise cloud infrastructures. In addition, companies have the opportunity to use numerous cloud applications that support their business.
As part of the above measures, United Internet has also invested heavily in service quality over the past years, e.g., with the introduction of the so-called 1&1 Principle and further constant enhancements to it.
With the 1&1 Principle, broadband and mobile internet customers are given five clear product-related performance promises. These include, for example, a one-month test phase and highly available expert hotline, delivery of the ordered product within one working day, or on-site replacement of faulty equipment on the next working day.
As of 2017, the 1&1 Replacement Service offers additional all-round protection: in the event of damage, customers receive a new – and identical – mobile phone within 24 hours. If the model is not available, in exceptional cases, an equivalent smartphone is immediately delivered.
Since September 2018, this premium service has been free of charge for customers and included in all Mobile 1&1 All-Net Flat tariffs with smartphone on signing the contract. The special feature is that the 1&1 Replacement Service goes beyond the usual device warranty and also covers self-caused damage, such as water damage or screen breakage. This all-round protection is valid for the entire minimum term.
The excellent scores achieved in customer service surveys during 2019 are proof that the investments in service quality are paying off.
As in previous years, the German newspaper DIE WELT, together with ServiceValue, systematically examined the service quality of German companies from the customer’s point of view. ServiceValue is a Cologne-based analysis and consulting company specializing in relationship management between companies and stakeholders. Service ranking from the customer’s perspective is based on the scientifically proven Service Experience Score (SES). This percentage value is determined in the same way as the well-known polling question “Which party would you vote for if the election were held this Sunday“ and represents a clear, understandable and efficient measuring instrument.
As part of the SERVICE CHAMPIONS 2019 study (published in October 2019), customers were asked to judge the best companies with regard to service experienced from a total of 3,530 companies from 353 different industries.
The United Internet brand 1&1 (Consumer Access segment) won the “No. 1 in Customer Service Experience” award in both the “Telecommunications” and “Internet Provider” (DSL) sectors.
Other sector winners were the United Internet brands GMX (Consumer Applications segment) in the “E-mail Provider” sector and STRATO (Business Applications segment) – for the sixth time in a row – in the “Web Hosting Provider” sector, in which IONOS (Business Applications segment) followed in second position.
1&1 Versatel (Business Access segment) is one of the most popular telecommunications service providers for small to mid-sized companies (SMEs). This was proven by a ranking of the German magazine WirtschaftsWoche (published in February 2019). In cooperation with ServiceValue, WirtschaftsWoche identified the most popular service providers of Germany’s SMEs once again in 2019. More than 9,000 decision-makers, buyers, and users of SMEs were surveyed. In addition to general customer satisfaction, seven other categories – such as consulting, value for money, and service quality – were evaluated. Overall, customer ratings were obtained for 356 providers from 33 industries. 1&1 Versatel achieved very good results in two categories (Telecommunications Telephony/Internet and Telecommunications Telephony/Internet/Mobile), finishing second in each.
The best customer service awards for IONOS in Spain and France (Business Applications) illustrate that these excellent service ratings are not limited to Germany. In Spain, the IONOS hotline won the coveted service award “Elegido servicio de atención al cliente” in the “Web products” category for the sixth time in a row in October 2019. The same applies to the IONOS hotline in France, which won the “Élu Service Client de l'Année” service award for the best customer service in the “Web products” category for the second year in a row in October 2019.
In 2019, the “Personal Consultant” service of IONOS was awarded gold for the best customer service initiative at the “European Contact Center & Customer Service Awards”. IONOS thus took first place in this segment at one of the most prestigious awards of the customer contact industry with 30 participants.
The product quality of the United Internet brands also received various accolades in the fiscal year 2019. For example, the United Internet brands IONOS and STRATO ranked first and second in the “Modular Website Kits for the SME sector” test held by “PC Magazin” (publication: April 2019). The testers focused on finding and testing web hosting packages which enable newcomers to quickly and easily create a website for their office community, crafts business, or law firm. The key factors were therefore simplicity, clarity, and good support. The test winner IONOS was ranked particularly highly for its comprehensive and personal customer service.
The Information Service Group (ISG) named IONOS its Rising Star 2019 in the IaaS market. The analysts thus honored the cloud computing provider’s outstanding development over the past twelve months, as well as its high future potential. The analyst firm compared a total of twelve cloud infrastructure providers worldwide. IONOS was particularly compelling with regard to its price/performance, local data protection, easy access, and strong performance.
In terms of network quality, 1&1 Drillisch came third in the prestigious broadband and landline network test of Germany’s “big players” conducted by respected German specialist magazine “connect” (published in August 2019). With a score of 872 from a maximum 1,000 points (prior year: first place), 1&1 was once again awarded the overall rating “Very Good”.
In 2019, the German magazine “connect” once again examined test connections in the categories Voice, Data, Crowdsourcing, Web Services, and Web TV in its annual review of all well-known providers.
1&1 uses the fiber-optic network of its sister company 1&1 Versatel for the realization of broadband connections. At locations where the network is not yet available, 1&1 cooperates with other telecommunications companies. 1&1 provides its telephony services via its own voice-over-IP (VoIP) platform, which has proven its reliability for over 10 years now and is constantly being enhanced.
The latter once again impressed in the category Voice with its fast connection and voice runtimes. In the Voice or high-speed Internet category, 1&1 achieved the best performance results together with regional provider M-net. In the new category Crowdsourcing, 1&1 was among the middle-ranked. In terms of Web Services, 1&1 was one of the top three together with Telefónica and M-net, while 1&1 and M-net were rated second best in the Web TV category.
The landline test was carried out on behalf of “connect” by zafaco GmbH. According to “connect”, about 4.6 million measurements were performed on test connections in a total of 52 cities throughout Germany over a period of around four weeks.
Security and data privacy
With the launch of the “E-Mail made in Germany” initiative in 2013 (in cooperation with a network also comprising Deutsche Telekom and freenet), United Internet’s e-mail services GMX and WEB.DE (Consumer Applications segment) also offer customers high standards with regard to the security and privacy of e-mail communication. This includes the encrypted transmission of all e-mails on all network routes, the processing and storage of all data in Germany according to German data protection regulations, and the identification of secure e-mail addresses within the e-mail applications.
As of April 2014, only SSL keys certified in Germany are used within the “E-Mail made in Germany” network and all transmission routes are fully encrypted. As an important enhancement of the security standard “E-Mail made in Germany”, GMX and WEB.DE developed an encryption system based on the globally recognized “Pretty Good Privacy” (PGP) standard in 2015. The new e-mail security level works on all commonly used devices, is provided free to all customers of the two mail services, and is compatible with all previous PGP applications. In 2016, the PGP solution of GMX and WEB.DE was also rolled out in the foreign markets of France, Spain, and the UK via the international e-mail brand mail.com.
Following end-to-end encryption for e-mails in the past few years, GMX and WEB.DE also rolled out end-to-end encryption for the cloud content of its customers in the fiscal year 2017. In addition to the automatic uploading of photos from smartphones to the cloud and improved publishing and sharing functions, security has also been stepped up: all users of WEB.DE and GMX in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (DACH) can use their “safe” for free end-to-end encryption of their cloud data, thus offering protection from third parties. As a result, the portal brands are strengthening their “Cloud Made in Germany” initiative and clearly differentiating themselves from non-European solutions.
In 2018, GMX and WEB.DE introduced a new protection against calendar spam – still a relatively new phenomenon. Spammers send fake appointment invitations to the mailbox and the digital calendar. GMX and WEB.DE allow customers to report and delete calendar spam. By clicking on a new “spam” button, the fake invitations with advertising, supposed discounts, or links to malware and phishing sites are deleted from the inbox.
As of 2019, GMX and WEB.DE offer users in Germany, Austria and Switzerland further protection against hackers with “two-factor authentication” (2FA). As soon as 2FA is activated and set up, not only the usual password (first factor) but also an additional confirmation code (second factor) is requested when logging in. This code is generated by an authentication app installed on the user’s smartphone.
With the aid of these and other security features, WEB.DE secured its test victory in a test conducted by the German consumer organization “Stiftung Warentest” (test 05/2019). A total of eleven German-speaking cross-system cloud storage services with free variants were tested. Particular attention was paid to the security of data stored in the cloud. With its compliance to strict German data protection laws, WEB.DE online storage was ranked highly in this category. All data are stored on servers in German data centers. The testers were also impressed by the transparent design of the company’s terms and conditions. Both the general terms and conditions and the data privacy declarations were 100 percent free of defects.
Customer trust / recommendation behavior
A high level of service, product, and network quality combined with high standards of security and data privacy also have a positive impact on the aspect of customer trust, and ultimately on the recommendation behavior of customers.
For example, the United Internet brand GMX is the e-mail provider which Germans trust most. This was the result of a survey (September 2019) commissioned by the German magazine WirtschaftsWoche in which GMX once again received the “Highest Customer Trust” rating while WEB.DE was attested “Very High Customer Trust”. Starting in 2014, WirtschaftsWoche has been examining the trust of German consumers in various companies once a year, in conjunction with ServiceValue. The results are published in “Germany’s Largest Trust Ranking”. In 2019, approx. 474,000 customers of 1,619 companies in 131 sectors were interviewed. 81.1% of all respondents stated that they trusted GMX. For the fifth year running, GMX was the top ranked e-mail provider and achieved a score in 2019 which was 16.3% above the average for all e-mail providers (64.8%). The survey’s academic advisor is the Psychology Institute of Goethe University Frankfurt/Main.
Together with ServiceValue, Focus Money conducted a large-scale customer survey in 2019 on the recommendation behavior of customers across 82 industries and over 1,200 companies (June 2019). ServiceValue applied its scientific method to evaluate approx. 494,000 customer opinions. The recommendation rates for the United Internet brands GMX and IONOS put them in first place in the category “E-Mail” and “Webhosting”. Second place in the “Webhosting” category went to another United Internet brand in the Business Applications segment, STRATO.
The internet sector is a highly dynamic and globally networked industry with short innovation cycles. United Internet AG has risen to these challenges with great success over many years now. One of the key factors for the success and growth of the United Internet Group are its dedicated and highly competent employees and executives with their entrepreneurial and autonomous approach to work. The Company therefore attaches great importance to a sustainable and balanced strategy across all aspects of its HR activities: from employee recruitment, to targeted entry-level and vocational training formats, tailored skills training programs, support with individual career paths, through to sustainable management development programs, and the retention of high potentials and top performers.
United Internet AG was once again recognized as a top employer in 2019. Based on an independent study of the “Top Employers Institute”, United Internet received the “TOP Employers Germany” award – as in the preceding years. Certification is only awarded to organizations which offer staff attractive working conditions. Assessment is based on career opportunities, employer benefits, working conditions, training and development opportunities, and the corporate culture.
Headcount and key figures
In the highly competitive market for skilled workers in the ICT sector, United Internet once again succeeded in recruiting top staff for its key positions and thus meeting the needs of its growing business. In addition to targeted employer branding, partnerships with education and training providers, and the positive impact of the Company’s product brands on candidates, our successful recruitment efforts center around a candidate-friendly, highly competitive acquisition and selection process.
The number of employees increased by 3.1% to 9,374 in the fiscal year 2019 (prior year: 9,093). Headcount in Germany rose by 2.6% to 7,761 as of December 31, 2019 (prior year: 7,567). The number of employees at the Group’s non-German subsidiaries grew by 5.7% to 1,613 (prior year: 1,526).
From the segment perspective, there were 3,163 employees in the Consumer Access segment (prior year: 3,150), 1,184 in the Business Access segment (prior year: 1,095), 1,007 in the Consumer Applications segment (prior year: 947), and 3,416 in the Business Applications segment (prior year: 3,355). A further 604 people were employed at the Group’s headquarters (Corporate/HQ) (prior year: 546). The gradual increase in Corporate/HQ staff resulted in particular from the transfer of employees from the segments who already worked in corporate functions in the past, as well as from the pooling of apprentices in a specially created company.
Multi-period overview: headcount development by location(1)
thereof in Germany
(1) Active employees as of December 31 of the respective fiscal year
Multi-period overview: headcount development by segment(1)
thereof Consumer Access
thereof Business Access
thereof Consumer Applications
thereof Business Applications
(1) Active employees as of December 31 of the respective fiscal year; as the new segmentation was only carried out as of the annual financial statements 2018, the segment breakdown is limited to the fiscal years 2016 - 2019
Personnel expenses rose by 2.6% to € 552.8 million in fiscal year 2019 (prior year: € 538.8 million). The personnel expense ratio thus amounted to 10.6% (prior year: 10.5%).
Multi-period overview: development of personnel expenses
in € million
Personnel expense ratio
Sales per employee, based on annual average headcount, amounted to approx. € 563k in fiscal year 2019 (prior year: approx. € 551k).
Targeted staff support and ongoing development
In order to keep pace with or even anticipate new technologies, competitive ideas, and market trends, it is important to continuously develop the Company’s employees. Pooling and retaining knowledge in-house requires a sustainable policy for aligning the Company and market requirements for various functions with the individual career objectives and prospects of staff.
United Internet attaches great importance to giving all employees at all locations – regardless of departments and functions – the same opportunities for development. A transparent, Group-wide framework for staff development was therefore defined from an early stage. The range comprises standard programs and support measures, as well as various function-based offerings which are tailored to the respective employee and skills profile. Specifically, this involves a gradual assumption of responsibility and an expansion of competencies within the specific field of work function – from beginner to expert.
Staff are supported both in their daily work (“on the job”) as well as with targeted training measures. United Internet is also moving with the times in this respect by offering a wide range of training via a digital platform (1&1 Campus) in addition to its existing program. Everybody recognizes it on a day-to-day basis: learning is no longer restricted to school and vocational education. Social, economic and above all technological developments both call for and enable a permanent learning process. This platform offers flexible learning opportunities, a wide range of formats, easy usage possibilities, and requires users to display a high degree of inner drive during the learning process.
In addition to vertical development paths, horizontal development is also possible between different functions. In addition, the organization’s permeability allows transfers between products or segments, and thus enables the interdisciplinary development of employees.
For employees who have reached the highest competency level (“senior”) for their respective function and would like to assume more responsibility for a special topic or in a management role, the Company offers two career models: the “management track” and the “expert track”. Whereas employees choosing the “management track” gradually assume more and more staff responsibility, “experts” have a high degree of specialist knowledge. However, they have no direct line responsibility, but are top performers, “know-how owners”, and advisors on strategic questions in their specific field and act as multipliers for their knowledge inside and outside the Company. Both the management and expert tracks are “permeable”, i.e., horizontal movement is also possible and an expert can become a manager and vice versa.
Discovering and nurturing potential and performance from an early stage
With the aid of junior management programs, United Internet develops young talents fresh from university from an early stage. The main target is to be able to recruit and train future managers and specialists from within the Company.
Further development programs are offered for staff with exceptional abilities and potential in all areas of the Company. Such employees are then accompanied through a structured program of individual development and training plans in order to prepare them for their future personal challenges, and those of the Company (MyWay+ and Senior+ for staff at Advanced/Senior level).
Specialist training by colleagues for colleagues
A particular training-on-the-job initiative in the United Internet Group’s technical divisions is the TEC campus. This comprises a series of lectures (“Business Academy”), training on tools, processes, and methods, as well as e-learning, and two internal conferences, the cross-national and cross-locational TECDays. The program and content are jointly designed by Technology and Human Resources staff in coordination with the Management Board members responsible for “Technology”. The aim is to create a framework in which staff can benefit from their mutual knowledge and networks.
PASK (Project/Agile/Scrum/Kanban methods) is a conference on all aspects of agility: technologies from development and operations are discussed here twice a year. Both events feature lectures and interactive formats, such as workshops, discussion rounds, and open spaces. The wide-ranging topics and intensive pooling of topics within two days attract colleagues from all locations and departments, and help expand networks and experience.
Thanks in part to the measures described above, the United Internet Group was able to recruit around 70% of managers from within its own ranks in fiscal year 2019 (prior year: around 65%).
Training held in high regard
The United Internet Group also attaches great importance to apprenticeships and initial vocational training. The Company trains young people to meet its future needs and offers them a successful start to their professional lives. The Company currently offers apprenticeships in commercial and technical professions, including IT specialist (application development/systems integration), IT systems clerk, dialogue marketing clerk, marketing communication clerk, and office management clerk. In cooperation with Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg - DHBW), United Internet also offers degree courses in Computer Sciences, Information Management, Accounting, Tax & Law/Accounting & Controlling, Business Administration/Marketing Management, and Business Administration/Digital Business Management at the universities of Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, and Mannheim.
During their three-year training or DHBW studies, all participants experience a wide variety of different Company departments. During these periods, they are fully integrated into the respective teams and daily processes. The apprentice workshops at the facilities in Karlsruhe and Montabaur have proved especially successful. Technical apprentices in particular spend part of their training period in the workshops in order to learn the basics for their later careers as early as possible. In addition to the provision of technical and methodological skills, the Company also attaches great importance during training to behavior which is compliant with its corporate culture. The internalization of corporate culture, expertise, methodological skills, and behavior in line with the corporate values form the basis for a successful transition to the post-training period. Many of those trained by the United Internet Group are thus ideally prepared for the transition to full-time employment.
In order to secure the number of high-caliber apprentices, in spite of dwindling school-leaver numbers, United Internet is now starting its efforts even earlier: in addition to cooperation and school events, the Company has also been offering one-on-one career advice for some time now. This service is being used by both the children of our employees and by young people without any direct personal link to the Company. On specific information days, trainers provide information on apprenticeships and career opportunities within the Company and are also available to give advice. In addition, internships are also offered to schoolchildren to give them an insight into working life.
At year-end 2019, around 227 young people were serving their apprenticeships or engaged in studies at Group companies (prior year: 239). After successfully passing their examinations, United Internet endeavors to take on as many apprentices as possible and to make an attractive job offer to every graduate. In fiscal year 2019, 48 apprentices and DHBW students were given full-time jobs (prior year: 58).
As part of the “Fair Company Initiative”, United Internet is committed to providing fair conditions for interns and thus guaranteeing a high level of benefit from their internships. In addition to adequate financial compensation, interns receive dedicated personal support from their respective departments and HR. Interns and former interns regularly emphasize this aspect and stress the high learning effect achieved during their internships. Internships are offered every year for students of IT, Product Management and Online Marketing, as well as in the field of Finance and HR.
United Internet is also a sponsor of the “Germany Scholarship” program, in which companies and the state play an equal role in promoting future graduates and helping them complete successful and challenging degree courses. The scholarship program supports students whose achievements promise future excellence in their studies and careers. Since the program was launched in 2011, United Internet has sponsored students at the two elite universities LMU and TU Munich. However, United Internet does not limit its activities to financial support, but also offers the current three students (prior year: five) personal mentoring by colleagues in the respective departments. This often leads to internships or jobs as working students.
Without the individual strengths of its employees, United Internet would not be what it is today – an internationally successful, innovative company on track for growth. United Internet attaches great importance to the constructive use of diversity management and the handling of social differences between its employees.
The United Internet Group’s corporate culture is based on mutual respect and a positive attitude toward individual differences with regard to culture, nationality, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, and disability – in other words, everything that makes the Company’s employees unique and distinctive. A work force composed of diverse personalities offers ideal conditions for creativity and productivity. The resulting potential for new ideas and innovation strengthens United Internet’s competitive position and enhances its opportunities in future markets. In accordance with this principle, the Company strives to find the field of activity and function for each employee which allows them to fully exploit their individual potential and talents. In addition to productivity, diversity also helps raise the general level of satisfaction among employees. These are key reasons for many applicants to select their future employer. As United Internet’s customers also have a wide variety of needs and wishes, they appreciate a business partner who can live up to their own diversity.
However, the promotion of diversity is not simply a one-size-fits-all solution. Employees and applicants are recruited, employed, and promoted on the basis of objective criteria, such as skills, aptitude, and expertise. In corporate divisions in which women are structurally under-represented, United Internet seeks to raise their representation provided they have the same qualifications, skills, and suitability. However, the Company always decides on a case-by-case basis.
Since the previous year, the development of women in United Internet companies has been supported by a structured planning of activities such as lectures, collegial case consulting, topic-related exchange groups, and individual measures, such as coaching or mentoring.
Multi-period overview: employees by gender(1)
(1) Active employees as of December 31 of the respective fiscal year
The average age of the United Internet Group’s employees at the end of fiscal year 2019 was around 38 (prior year: 38).
Multi-period overview: employee age profile(1)
30 – 39
40 – 49
(1) Active employees as of December 31 of the respective fiscal year
Employees of United Internet AG work in an international environment at over 30 sites around the world.
Multi-period overview: employees by country(1)
(1) Active employees as of December 31 of the respective fiscal year
In the wake of the global climate debate and rising energy consumption, the term “Green IT” is often used in the computer industry. The term basically comprises all measures that contribute toward reducing a company’s CO2 emissions and energy consumption.
The ICT sector makes a significant contribution to global added value and is thus a strong economic factor. At the same time, it also emits a significant amount of CO2 and consumes a lot of electricity. For internet service providers like United Internet, this applies in particular to the data centers where millions of cloud applications are managed for private and commercial users.
United Internet has been using electricity from renewable sources at its data centers in Germany for more than ten years now. In all countries in which it operates data centers, e.g., the USA, the UK, and Spain, the Company now uses a mix of renewable energies and CO2 offsetting via the use of certificates. This enables the climate-neutral operation of all data centers.
The Company also attaches importance to using renewable energy from geographically adjacent regions, i.e., mostly in the same country or in a nearby area (e.g., the Alpine region).
The main elements of the Company’s energy-saving efforts at its data centers around the world are:
- The operation of a certified energy management system according to ISO 50001:2011 that ensures that energy efficiency is considered and implemented in line with sustainability aspects during the procurement, operation, and maintenance of all infrastructure components.
- Server hardware: a proportion of our servers are built-to-order for United Internet. We leave out unnecessary components and specify, for example, energy-saving processors and power supplies with low heat loss. This means that less heat is radiated and data rooms do not have to be cooled as much. The servers are sustainably recycled by certified companies at the end of their life cycle.
- Software used: the web hosting system used by United Internet is our own highly optimized development, based on Linux. The modification enables us to manage the data of several thousand customers on a single computer and at the same time, and thus utilize our resources as sensibly as possible.
- Virtualization and use of containers: the server hardware used in data centers is often only utilized at an average rate of 15% to 25%. With the aid of virtualization, efficiency can be increased significantly – thus saving energy.
- Containers further optimize the virtualization principle by dispensing with redundant operation of operating systems. Instead, they are shared by several instances. This also enables even stronger “elastic” load-dependent scaling of the IT resources provided. Virtualization and containers are used both in internal operations and for customer products.
“United Internet for UNICEF” foundation
The “United Internet for UNICEF” foundation was set up by Ralph Dommermuth in September 2006 as an independent foundation under German civil law. It primarily supports projects of UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.
Projects are carefully selected from the wide range of UNICEF topics and presented on the high-reach portals of the United Internet Group (1&1, GMX und WEB.DE) in order to attract as many donors as possible for the particular project or as sustaining members of UNICEF. During emergency situations, such as in March and April 2019 when 2.2 million people – including over a million children – were hit by the effects of the cyclones Idai and Kenneth, newsletters can reach over 30 million people within 24 hours and thus facilitate the effective collection of donations.
In 2019, the foundation mostly supported the crisis regions of South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen and also supported projects in India and Venezuela. Moreover, it launched two emergency newsletters for the victims of the aforementioned Idai and Kenneth cyclones in Mozambique, whereby “United Internet for UNICEF” provided € 1.2 million for emergency aid in the country.
The single or repeat donations gained via United Internet’s portals are passed on 100% to UNICEF as all foundation staff work on a voluntary basis, or are not paid from “United Internet for UNICEF” donations.
There were several reasons to set up a foundation devoted principally to supporting UNICEF:
- UNICEF makes a sustainable improvement to the lives of children. True to the principle of “Helping People Help Themselves”, UNICEF develops national programs around the world focusing on education, health, child protection, and the fight against malnutrition. UNICEF involves the local population in its development work and supports them in such a way that they can look after themselves and their children.
- UNICEF provides long-term aid, but also offers fast and reliable help in emergency situations. In the wake of earthquakes, floods, or wars, UNICEF provides children with clean drinking water and drugs, sets up provisional schools and offers psycho-social care. UNICEF can draw on its many years of experience and global presence.
- UNICEF imposes strict controls on the use of donations. Both the UNICEF representatives in the program countries and the local partners are regularly inspected to ensure that funds are being used exactly as planned.
In the fiscal year 2019, a further € 4.7 million (prior year: € 3.5 million) was collected in donations and transferred to UNICEF – according to preliminary figures. Since its creation, the foundation has so far collected € 47.8 million.
Further information on the “United Internet for UNICEF” foundation can be found online at www.united-internet-for-unicef-stiftung.de.
Support for refugees
The integration of people who have fled war and destruction continues to pose challenges for society, such as care and language barriers, as well as their cultural and economic integration. In addition to the “United Internet for UNICEF” foundation, the United Internet Group has been active since 2015 in various activities to promote the sustainable integration of refugees in Germany. The Company’s integration measures are based on the current needs of the refugees and have therefore been constantly adapted over the past few years.
The initiative began with “1&1 Welcome” in 2015, when United Internet employees helped refugees settle in their initial accommodation with a variety of offers (e.g., music, sports, and leisure activities, decorating their rooms). This was soon followed by “1&1 Language” in which contact centers were set up near refugee homes to offer German language courses.
With the closure of the refugee homes, demand for the initiatives also changed. Since March 2016, the main focus has therefore been on the “1&1 Fit for Job” training program. In addition to the measures offered by the state and local authorities, refugees are given help to prepare for the German labor market. At United Internet’s facilities in Montabaur, Karlsruhe, and Munich, a modular program gives participants a general overview of office work, the cultural environment, and possible careers at the Company, as well as hands-on training units on job applications and PC skills. All courses are held by skilled employees of United Internet, who can devote up to 10% of their working hours to the program. In addition to a core team, over 190 employees have so far volunteered for the “1&1 Fit for Job” program.
Almost 400 refugees and immigrants have so far participated in the “1&1 Fit for Job” program. More than 130 participants subsequently completed an internship at companies of the United Internet Group.
In 2017, the focus of the initiative was once again adapted to the changing needs of the participants. For example, there were an increasing number of follow-up events, which focused more on working with PCs and job application training.
In 2018, the formats (training program, follow-up events, internship program, individual internship, sponsor program, employer events, networking) were adapted once more as needs changed away from training and toward preparation for work, and assistance with reintegration into the labor environment.
Although internships give an impression of working life in Germany, United Internet believes that apprenticeships are the only way to gain a firm professional foothold. 30 refugees are therefore currently doing an apprenticeship at Group companies and receiving intensive support in the form of learning assistance, language training, and personal mentors. The success of the initiative is demonstrated by the fact that seven refugees successfully completed their courses in 2019, and six of them have subsequently been given full-time employment by a company of the United Internet Group.