Please Supply Responsibly


How are working conditions in Foxconn now? I wanted to find recent reports or articles written on the current state of working conditions in Apple supplier factories, and came across this article. Apple seems to have taken the hint from the slew of bad publicity they received about the working conditions in factories used by their suppliers and has become continuously more visible about what goes on in Foxconn’s factories and has been taking steps necessary to increase working conditions at Foxconn. Apple now has a Supplier Responsibility page on its website, and has released a Supplier Responsibility Report for the past 8 years.

Apple seems to be doing it all right currently: performing 451 audits of their suppliers in 2013 alone, also letting outside companies perform the audits for them. Apple has been making advances in everything from cutting excessive working hours (95% compliance with the 60 hour work-week maximum) to making their supply chain more environmentally friendly by cutting down on harmful materials. Apple has also posted a Supplier Code of Conduct which sets standards necessary for all of their suppliers to follow.

I feel as though all of the poor publicity about Apple supplier’s ethics, whether it be via Mike Daisey or another source, really played a large role in the reconstruction of Apple’s supply chain. Apple has taken great steps to being more transparent and proving to the world that they actually do care about the working conditions of their factory workers. Apple does still have work to do, and thankfully they agree with me, but it is promising to see how much effort and work Apple has been putting into these issues.

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5 thoughts on “Please Supply Responsibly”

  1. I chose to read your post because I was very curious to know what changes, if any, Apple has made to improve the working conditions in places such as Foxconn. It was pleasing to hear that they have made significant strides in improving working conditions and providing their consumers with information regarding their suppliers. However, as you mentioned, I believe companies such as Apple still have a ways to go. While many positive changes have been made, consistency is key. After all of the poor publicity they received following Daisey’s story, Apple has something to prove to its consumers. Companies find loopholes all the time and Apple needs to have the proper checks in place to make sure the shortcuts intended to increase efficiency and profits are not taking place. They seem to have moved in the right direction however. The audits performed by outside companies seem like an effective way to ensure Apple isn’t cheating the system like before. The Supplier Responsibility page on their site is also impressive, claiming that they’ve trained 3.8 million workers on worker’s rights and have offered a variety of free educational courses for their workers to take. I would be very interested in hearing Mike Daisey’s take on the changes Apple has made to their suppliers’ working conditions.

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  2. Zach, I too think more effort may be needed. I think back to the play during the segment where the screen showed Steve Jobs being interviewed about the suicides happening at Foxconn. While he mentioned that the suicide rate was less than that of some places in the United States, the interviewer interjected by saying, “but this is one place”. Jobs responded by describing how unfortunate these events were, and the fact that rates are measured by number, not location. I have to agree with the interviewer. Job’s response seemed deliberate and planned. It made me think that Apple was trying to cover up their foot steps and develop euphemisms for the tragedies. Surely, progress has been made. The supplier page is quite impressive. Jobs and Apple certainly knew that the supplier chain should be high on their priority list. If anything, Daisey has achieved this. As he made more and more of the public aware, Apple faced more scrutiny.

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  3. I agree, that Jobs’ response in the clip that was briefly shown during Bucknell’s version of Daisey’s monologue seemed quite deliberate and planned. Like Christian, I also wrote some of my blog this week about conditions at Foxconn since Daisey’s expose. While my post did not include facts and figures as Christian’s does here, it did agree with the fact that both Foxconn and Apple both have room for improvement. The specific event that I discussed in my blog occurred in the fall of 2012, the same year in which Daisey’s clip aired on this American Life, and the same year in which Foxconn and Apple continued to feel increasing pressure from outsiders. Clearly, of course, change does take time.

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  4. Cate, great call there– change is not just going to happen overnight. I think the fact that Apple has taken these steps to a more transparent operation is just the first large step in increasing transparency of corporations. We are stakeholders, and this stuff matters to us as well, so in light of the topics broached in this class, I think we can see a positive trend in the future.

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  5. I am happy to applaud progress, and much of this seems like it is. However, still, WHO is auditing? Apple is? And what incentive do the suppliers or Apple have to overlook problems?

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