Building networks means taking a share of responsibility for social and societal cohesion. To us, sustainable management means using the opportunities of digitalisation to serve the common good. This is why, for several years, we’ve been committed to providing digital education in Austrian schools: our #ConnectedKids initiative allows pupils, teachers and parents to explore digital environments. Our partnership with Caritas aims to help people who have come in search of a new, peaceful start in life to integrate in society. Learning and working at Magenta affords young refugees a new perspective. Together with the Life Ball, we promote rights for people living with HIV. We also work with Volkshilfe in the fight against poverty.
Magenta Telekom bears its share of social responsibility, including beyond our statutory obligations. We connect millions of people around the clock. We provide crucial infrastructure without public funding. Social networking is therefore the guiding principle of our social engagement. We resolutely advocate tolerance and social inclusion for all groups and at every level of society – and oppose discrimination and exclusion.
We work to promote understanding where our society is changing and public opinion sometimes lags behind. To do this, we enter into long-term partnerships with civil society organisations with proven track records, where we provide both financial support and specialist competencies. Examples of this work include: our partnership with Caritas, which aims to help people who have fled crises to integrate in society; the Volkshilfe initiative to combat poverty in Austria; opportunities to provide digital education for schools as well as the fight against HIV and AIDS. We create jobs for people who find it difficult to access education and the jobs market, such as young refugees without families and people on the autistic spectrum. As the Vienna Biennale’s Digital Content Partner, we strive to encourage a dialogue in society around the benefits but also the risks of digitalisation.
CSR (corporate social responsibility) cannot – and should not – replace the network of the welfare state: the combined funds set aside for CSR every company in Austria would still be insufficient to do so. However, together with our partners, we can provide the stimuli required to find innovative solutions to weaknesses in the network of social support. We aim to make our social engagement as effective as possible through continuity and a clear focus. We also hope it will inspire others to emulate us.
While tablets, the internet and smartphones generate a great deal of uncertainty in the classroom, they also bring with them huge opportunities to provide individual support. Digital education requires support because it is anything but a natural, self-evident component of Austrian schools. Through the “ConnectedKids” project, launched by Magenta Telekom in 2013, we help children, young people, parents and teachers learn to use digital media. By the end of the 2017/18 school year, almost 13,500 pupils, almost 1,000 teachers and 624 classes across 151 schools had taken a journey through time to the networked class of the future.
Digital media are transforming the opportunities open to children and young people to learn and experience the world around them. However, these new opportunities bring with them uncertainties for teachers as well as for children, young people and their parents. Magenta sees its task as being mindful of ensuring responsible use and providing parents with support options through services such as our “Kinderschutz” child protection solution. However, this should not distract from the variety of learning opportunities that digital media offer.
The sound educational basis of #ConnectedKids was created by our project manager, Prof. Paul Kral: the founder of the education agency know.learn&lead and a lecturer at a university of applied sciences, he served for many years as the Director of the Pädagogisches Institut der Stadt Wien (Institute for Education of the City of Vienna). Complementing our school-based projects, our #ConnectedKids blog at kids.magenta.at offers a platform for teachers and parents. It features articles (in German) on topics such as “Smartphones: the laboratory in your trouser pocket”, how to encourage children to take an interest in research, safety tips, app recommendations from teachers and explainers such as “How Wikipedia works”. However, it also covers how to identify cyberbullying and how to deal with it. Magenta Telekom provides its own educational offerings on the use of internet at schools and in the classroom (for details, see https://www.magenta.at/business/bildung/).
Practical experience, such as Magenta’s #ConnectedKids project, is the basis for meaningful enrichment of everyday school life by using the opportunities of the internet and digital media. We aim to support our schools in relation to digitalisation with international events about digital education, the #ConnectedKids blog and our internet offerings specifically tailored to the education sector.
In 2017, at our annual educational event for parents, pupils and education professionals, Swiss educator Beat Döbeli-Honegger gave a keynote speech entitled “Digital school: More than 0 and 1”. This speech was an important impetus for discussions at the event. Digital media also support the #ConnectedKids project, including the blog at kids.magenta.at, which is managed by specialists. Robotics and coding are focuses of the content we pursue more actively in our class-based work with #ConnectedKids. We try to make this exciting topic accessible to the children of our T-Center employees by holding mini-workshops. What’s more, conveying topics relating to digitalisation in a creative and artistic way has been a strong component of #ConnectedKids for several years in our collaboration with the Vienna Biennale and the MAK (Museum for Applied Arts) – including in our work on the “Tree of Life” in 2018 to mark the centenary of Gustav Klimt’s death. In 2019, the topic of our cooperation with the MAK was “Artificial Intelligence”.
As a founding member of the Future Learning Lab, Magenta supports the public sector in making these experiences in the development of digital education accessible to wider audiences in the education sector. Initiated by the Austrian Ministry of Family and Youth and in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the Future Learning Lab aims to give students and teachers the opportunity to explore digital media in practical terms and exchange views with experts on how digital media can be applied in the classroom. At the start of the 2017/18 school year, the Future Learning Lab found a home at the University College of Teacher Education Vienna (PH Wien).
In 2015, Austria was faced with an extraordinary challenge: helping people who fled war and adversity and wanted to build a new life, to integrate into society. Together with Caritas, Magenta aims to help to turn this situation into an opportunity for our society. While the initial priority was to provide accommodation, in the years since, the focus has increasingly shifted towards initiatives to assist integration. We implement one such initiative in our own company: around 10 percent of our apprentice places are reserved for young people who have come to Austria without families.
A roof over their head and contact with family and friends are among the most pressing needs of the people who have arrived in Austria since 2015 and hope to start a new life here in peace. Through our #ConnectRefugees initiative, Magenta seeks to support Caritas as meaningfully as possible in its work for refugees. Together with donations and the committed support of our employees, we helped to erect a container settlement for young people in Lanzendorf.
Since 2015, we have provided Wi-Fi for around 200 Caritas accommodation centres across Austria so that asylum seekers can keep in touch with their families and friends. The hardware required was also sponsored by our partner HUAWEI Technologies Austria. In addition, we provide individual data SIM cards free of charge to give refugees internet access via their smartphones and provide pre-paid cards to transients.
Integration cannot be completed in one day or one year. Turning this challenge into an opportunity for society will require patience. This is why #ConnectRefugees will remain an important focus of our social responsibility work in the years ahead. This comprises numerous initiatives, including supporting “chancen:reich”, a jobs fair for migrants; promoting the “Ideegration” platform launched by Ashoka to connect different initiatives, and developing and providing the “LearnMatch” smartphone app that supports those learning German.
In 2018, we lent particular support to Caritas’ Project Zusammenleben (Coexist) and the charity’s learning cafés. Project Zusammenleben offers asylum seekers and members of the host society a wide range of orientation and information materials to build the framework for an open dialogue and, thus, build bridges in society. This includes information about social coexistence in Austria as well as practical support in migrants’ day-to-day lives through buddy and mentoring projects. Discussion events, civil engagement workshops and dialogue around integration help to put a face to the “unknowns” on either side of the situation and focus on commonalities rather than differences.
Caritas learning cafés offer free tutoring and afternoon care to pupils between the ages of 6 and 15. The educational offering is aimed at children and young people from underprivileged families, with a focus on children with a migrant background and disadvantaged children without a migrant background. Caritas’ Austria-wide learning cafés project has been implemented in all nine federal provinces. In total, 1,950 children and young people receive support in 54 learning cafés.
Education at all levels is the key to successful integration. With this in mind, Magenta has provided sponsorship for a START scholarship in Upper Austria for several years. This supports pupils with foreign roots and a thirst for knowledge, helping them to complete secondary education.
Anyone who has been forced to flee crisis-hit and war-torn regions such as Syria and Afghanistan as a child and without their family will often have few prospects for the future, never mind professional opportunities. Young people in this position are at risk of spending their lives on the fringes of society. The teaching at Magenta gives young refugees with no relatives new prospects for the future and opens doors to the jobs market in Austria. With the support from the private lobby.16 initiative, young people gain a place in the working world of their new home and an opportunity to build a solid foundation despite their difficult circumstances.
Since 2010, Magenta has been a resolute partner to lobby.16 and their work to educate these young people. We applied our many years of experience in the field of human resources and as a nationally recognised training provider to develop a programme to prepare and accompany young people during their apprenticeship years. As part of this programme, the young people we support study intensively to improve their German, English, mathematics and IT skills and prepare for their internships with additional training courses.
Through this programme, Magenta Telekom enables young people to train as retail salespeople with a focus on telecommunications or as office administrators. More than 20 apprentices – making up almost 10 percent of our training places – have benefited from this opportunity for professional integration since we established our cooperation with lobby.16. Ten of these have completed their training with outstanding results, and the majority are still employed at Magenta. Magenta employees serve as voluntary mentors to support young people and their personal development.
As an international company, Magenta Telekom has always been obligated to integrate equal opportunities and diversities in its personnel policy. Our commitment to lobby.16 is also intended to set an example within our company, showing that respect, tolerance and mutual appreciation are values we embody. Our company is home to employees from many different countries, creating an unbelievable pool of different talents and experiences. These experiences sometimes also include dangerous escapes that, with support and in more fortunate circumstances, can be turned into a positive.
The Vienna Biennale, founded in 2015 under the motto “Ideas for Change”, grapples with the issues of our modern, digital world at the interface of art, design and architecture. In 2019, it focuses on values that should guide digitalisation and the rapid development of artificial intelligence.
What values should form the basis of the future we seek to build with the help of digitalisation? This issue of the opportunities to build an economically and socially equitable, ecologically sustainable future will form the focus of this year’s Vienna Biennale, the third edition of the event. It was founded in 2015 under the title “Vienna Biennale for Change” by Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, Director of the MAK (Museum for Applied Arts). At the heart of the Vienna Biennale is a critical examination of digitalisation. For this reason, Magenta Telekom – formerly T-Mobile Austria – has been the Digital Content Partner of the Vienna Biennale from the outset.
In 2017, we brought Deutsche Telekom’s Fashion Fusion Show to Vienna, which relates to integrating digital technologies in fashion. Other events arranged by Magenta have focused on issues of digital responsibility or urban development to create smart cities. This year’s event, “VIENNA BIENNALE FOR CHANGE 2019: BRAVE NEW VIRTUES. Shaping our digital world” features an extensive programme on this topic across different locations from 29 May to 6 October 2019 (http://www.viennabiennale.org/).
“With the opportunities offered by art, design and architecture, the Vienna Biennale contributes to creating a virtue-based future,” said Thun-Hohenstein, who founded and directs the Biennale. Artists, designers and architects from every continent display their bold visions for artificial intelligence and new technologies, for creating innovative (urban) working models, for new forms of (co)existence and for responsible consumption.
In its exhibition “UNCANNY VALUES. Artificial Intelligence & You”, the MAK investigates one of the most important topics of the coming decade that will have profound effects on every area of life: artificial intelligence (AI). As a result of our partnership, all Magenta customers can purchase tickets to the exhibition at reduced prices. And, because we are convinced that this topic requires intensive examination, we offer our employees special tours through the exhibition.
The fight against HIV and AIDS, the best possible support for people living with these conditions, and the fight for social acceptance have been priorities for Magenta for many years and represent an obligation to society. Our commitment is not limited to the Life Ball, which we have supported for over ten years. Together with our partner SquareTrade, we champion the Diversity Care association, which works to improve care for people with chronic illnesses, and the Diversity Ball, which is a powerful, annual symbol of a vibrant, diverse society.
Magenta has been a partner of the Life Ball for many years. In 2017, in keeping with the slogan “Know Your Status”, we developed an app together with the Life Ball that helps people to obtain information about their HIV status and, if necessary, to find assistance.
One of these innovative facilities is Diversity Care Wien (previously HIVmobil), an association that supports HIV-positive people by providing medical and home nursing care. This reduces burdensome hospital visits. For many years, we have supported Diversity Care and marked World AIDS Day on 1 December together with our customers and our insurance partner, SquareTrade, by making a donation for every contract agreed on this date.
The innovative form of care that Diversity Care provides demonstrates our understanding of social responsibility: we want to reach a point at which services like this are anchored in the general health system, as only then will they be accessible to all. You can read more about the association’s admirable work here: Diversity Care Wien (http://www.diversitycare.wien).
Another of our partnerships shows Magenta’s commitment to diversity in society: in 2019, for the fifth time, Magenta was the main sponsor of the Diversity Ball, organised by equalizent. This initiative celebrates individual diversity like no other ball in Vienna. As a social enterprise, equalizent offers expertise in relation to deafness, sign language and diversity management.
Across Austria, 324,000 children and young people under the age of 19 are at risk of poverty. This high figure shows that child poverty is a structural problem that we will only be able to solve together. Under the slogan “Kinderarmut abschaffen” (Eradicate child poverty), the aid organisation Volkshilfe implements measures that aim to make this dream reality. Magenta Telekom has been committed to this partnership for many years.
Volkshilfe pursues the model of a guaranteed basic child allowance so that children do not have to grow up in poverty. This consists of child-based support payments: the lower the parents’ incomes, the higher the payments. All children receive the universal component of €200, irrespective of their parents’ income. An additional income-assessed component is also paid up to a maximum of €425: the full amount is paid out to families with annual taxable income of €20,000; above this level payments are made on a sliding scale up to an income of €35,000.
To demonstrate the efficiency of this proposal, Volkshilfe is using the donations it receives to support 20 children living in poverty for two years; it supplements this model with social workers and sociological documentation. Families are selected based on factors that commonly lead to child poverty (e.g. single parent), and regional considerations (urban/rural distribution). The aid payments are made on a monthly basis to the parents of children under 18 living in poverty. Expenses relating to the child are documented in a child budget book. This empowers the parents to plan expenses purposefully.
Volkshilfe and Magenta are connected by a long-standing partnership in which innovation is writ large. The first commercial WAP application, a forerunner of smartphone apps common today, was launched back in September 2000. This phone application made it possible to access and enter performance data for Volkshilfe Lower Austria, which enabled Volkshilfe to organise its social services more efficiently. We also work hand in hand when it comes to inclusion. Magenta Telekom, just like Volkshilfe, campaigns for an inclusive society.
Many minor and major topics of societal networking have accompanied our social responsibility for many years. These include our range of cheap and state-subsidised tariffs and support for the Austrian Childhood Cancer Organisation and “butterfly children”.
With the gulf between rich and poor widening around the world, this connection is becoming increasingly important. This is why Magenta has supported Volkshilfe for many years in its work to combat poverty. This also includes the core of our commercial activities: making connections to the communication society affordable for people from every walk of life by providing cheap tariffs, not least the state-subsidised “Klax Sozial” tariff.
In doing so, we pay particular attention to our commitment to children and young people. Our support for DEBRA, a self-help association for the parents of “butterfly children”, arose from the commitment of one father and T-Mobile employee. Since then, the proceeds from handset recycling and our annual Christmas donation have been given to research into innovative treatment approaches for this disease.
In 2017, just as in 2016, we called for the public to do something unusual, by asking them to be conscious of using their smartphones and support an important social issue: we asked Austrians to switch their mobile phones to silent and to take a “digital detox” on 24 December. For every minute that handsets were muted, we made a donation to the Austrian Childhood Cancer Organisation and DEBRA Austria. Together with our customers, we donated €30,000 worth of minutes.
The Austrian Childhood Cancer Organisation and DEBRA Austria have partnered with Magenta for many years. Just as for DEBRA, we make a donation to the Austrian Childhood Cancer Organisation for every handset returned for recycling.