Telenor has completed its internal learning process after the exit from Myanmar, yielding valuable lessons on responsible disengagement and crisis management.
“After the military coup in Myanmar, the country, our company and employees were plunged into a new reality that the people of Myanmar are sadly still facing today. It soon became a civil war-like situation with increased violence, explosions on a weekly and sometimes daily basis, economic insecurity on top of the pandemic crisis and the imposition of martial law. We faced orders that would have been in breach of Norwegian and international sanctions, in a context where our employees faced immense threats. This made it impossible for Telenor to operate in the country”, says Rita Skjærvik, EVP People, Sustainability and External Relations.
Telenor has now completed its internal learning process after the company’s exit from Myanmar. While it confirmed that the outcome – the forced sale of Telenor Myanmar – was the least detrimental outcome, it also highlighted important reflections on a wide range of areas.
“We hope that Telenor’s experience can contribute to improving knowledge, guidelines and best practices for other companies in similar situations.”, Skjærvik adds.
Telenor is taking concrete actions on a range of identified improvement areas:
Sharing of experiences and challenges in external forums and across stakeholder groups
Taking steps to build awareness of potential risks to end users and their digital footprint, in addition to creating a better understanding of the broader ICT ecosystem.
Bringing together a Human Rights Expert Forum to explore sensitive business and human rights dilemmas in light of the experience in Myanmar and further challenges which can occur in Telenor’s markets.
Revisiting internal policies and processes to ensure they are meeting the requirements as set out by the UNGPs and OECD Guidelines.
Implementing a new way of work when engaging with investors and civil society organisations.
Implemented a new sanction monitoring tool.
Targeted annual training for relevant Telenor-appointed board members, including in listed non-controlled companies.
The lessons learned will also be taken into consideration when developing Telenor’s revised policy framework including Telenor’s crisis management process.
In 2022, Telenor engaged the law firm Wikborg Rein to facilitate a series of workshops to capture the lessons learned from Telenor’s experience in Myanmar since the military coup.