Climate change and how to combat it were already on everybody’s lips even before the recent German elections. The world is in the middle of a profound transition towards a sustainable economy. And more and more clearly at the heart of this is the ongoing process of digital transformation, whose impact on developments in our daily lives and many different aspects of society is growing significantly. We are a leading European internet specialist with more than 25 million customer contracts, over 39 million ad-financed free accounts, and a workforce of roughly 10,000 people. As such, we see our role as building bridges to a sustainable digital future – one that has to be safe, reliable and accessible to all. We take the responsibility that results from our strong market position extremely seriously here.
Doing business sustainably in all our divisions is second nature to us at United Internet AG. We aim not only to fully comply with the increasingly rigorous regulatory requirements but also to continuously enhance and delve deeper into our action areas, and to ensure transparency about them. We succeeded in this once again in our fifth year of reporting
We are maintaining our clear focus on corporate digital responsibility (or “CDR” for short), especially in relation to our pioneering activities in the areas of 5G, fiber optics, and cloud services. This includes digital participation, data privacy, and information security, among other things. Our vision is to act as secure, trusted providers for consumers and companies alike, offering them greater and greater bandwidth for internet access and powerful cloud applications. In this way, we can enable everyone to leverage the numerous and growing opportunities offered by the internet as a universal infrastructure for information, communication, entertainment, and e-business.
Environmental and climate protection is also one of our key action areas, and one in which we set ourselves the highest standards. We continued to optimize and expand our internal data collection activities so as to obtain an even better picture of the positive and negative impacts of how we do business, and hence to be able to identify the measures that need to be taken. Today, those of our data centers that are owned by IONOS Holding and 1&1 AG already only use renewable energy for regular operations. This demonstrates that we are closely monitoring our most energy-intensive areas, and that we design them to be highly energy-efficient. In addition, the EU Taxonomy, parts of which will enter into force in 2022, sets out a binding road map for environmentally-friendly financial investments. This will dominate both our own environmental activities and those being taken by all other European companies for the long term. Other ways in which we are helping protect the environment include installing efficient energy systems in all new buildings and revising our mobility policy in 2021 in favor of sourcing electric vehicles.
The health of our employees and their families is a top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other things, we again expanded mobile working options last year, developed testing and vaccination offerings, and introduced regular digital healthcare courses, which were eagerly received. I am delighted to say that we have continued to be a strong, committed team despite the distances between us.
Another essential part of United Internet’s culture is our conviction that diversity is one of the keys to long-term business success. We want to promote a values-based, diverse working environment under the motto “United in Diversity”. In line with this, we held the first “UI Diversity Days” in 2021 – an interactive series of talks and presentations by and for staff on topics such as unconscious bias, part-time working for men, and accessibility. In addition, we signed up to Germany’s Diversity Charter in May 2021, clearly signaling to outsiders our determination to recognize, value, and include diversity in our company.
Equally, we aim to be a consistently reliable and trusting partner in our business relationships, too, and to meet our due diligence obligations as a company. In line with this, we have reviewed our value chain in detail for transparency, especially with respect to the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (Liefer-kettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz – LkSG), along with the processes needed to prevent human rights risks.
We also celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of our United Internet for UNICEF foundation in 2021. The regular appeals for donations that we make to our GMX, WEB.DE, 1&1, and IONOS customers, coupled with the money donated by the United Internet Group itself, have raised roughly €60 million for global UNICEF programs since the foundation was set up. For example, last year the foundation provided significant support for UNICEF’s #ENDviolence campaign to protect children in Cambodia, helped people in India and Haiti who were suffering hardship as a result of COVID-19, and launched a successful appeal for donations to help victims of the drastic flooding in Germany’s Ahr Valley. The foundation has been extremely successful in helping children and people in need in the years since it was founded in 2006. We are delighted to be part of such a good cause and are looking forward to many more milestones from the foundation going forward.
We intend to continue focusing closely on, and taking a critical approach to, the changing challenges and opportunities that sustainability will bring in the coming years, to address them directly, and to remain proactive. These are things that I am looking forward to personally, too.