This post is inspired by a stint of research into what Apple executives’ reaction was to the “Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”. Even though on a corporate communications level, Apple has responded to the conditions portrayed by Mike Daisey, Apple’s executives shied away from making public statements about Mike Daisey’s allegations…until today…
Mike: Tim, this is Mike Daisey. It’s good to have you on air. I’m sure a lot of people were really excited to hear what you personally think about the whole situation at Foxxconn.
Tim: *Hangs up
Mike: OOOK. *Dials again. Hi Tim, this is Mike Daisey, there seems to have been a problem with our connection.
Tim: How did you get my number?
Mike: As a journalist, I do have a series of connections that helped me connect with you on the phone (audience cringes in response to bad half-pun)
Tim: After an interview I’ve had with Walt Mossberg, I remember reading that you criticized him for not asking me “the right questions”. He then tweeted that “being attacked by an admitted liar is sort of a badge of honor. I don’t know if many people consider you a journalist anymore. Also, we’ve already released our official response to the allegations and are continuously working with our partners to improve working conditions.
Mike: So you are saying that worker conditions in China is a huge priority for Apple?
Tim: It is important to use that our products are of a highest quality and also ethically sourced.
Mike: “‘Recently you went to China for the first time as CEO to tour Foxconn’s production lines,” Daisey wrote as part of an interview question he claims he would have asked Cook. “Apple’s first outside audits of Foxconn happened in 2006, after media coverage back then, and the report recommendations made six years ago are the same as the ones made by the FLA in 2012. Did it not seem important enough a priority for the CEO go until now, six years later? Why did it take so long?'” (actual quote from Mike Daisey)
Tim: Our response to the audits were prompt even back in 2006 and we’ve worked to improve conditions. And in 2012 and even now we are working to continuously improve. We are keeping the situation updated in our annual reports. And part of our increased commitment we also had the visits in China.
Mike: And what did you think about the worker conditions there?
Tim: Clearly improved from the reports we received back in 2006.
Mike: Are you sure you are getting the full picture from these people? Foxconn and the other companies have probably sugar-coated everything that you had seen. Have you seen “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs’?
Tim: I haven’t and I don’t intend to. I’m more interested in facts not in false allegations.
Mike: How can you know if you haven’t even seen it?
Tim: I’m not interested in allegations and I’ve already answered your question. If there’s not anything else I can help you with, I definitely need to get going…
*A slight crackle was heard in the call. Out of a blue moon, a very familiar voice echoes:
STEVE WOZNIAK: Tim, I know you are actually concerned about the fate of the Chinese workers. You need to listen to the play though. I think it will allow you to see the whole issue in a different light. Mike is definitely not anti-Apple.
“When I heard it in articles, I kind of ignored it. I figured that really wrong bad treatment of humans gets dealt with and fixed, even though I know that it often just seems to get covered up. After watching Mike’s performance, I wound up asking myself a lot of internal questions. Are we all guilty? Maybe there are so many of us that we discard that thought by dilution of responsibility (the more people there are not doing the right thing, the less guilty we are ourselves).”
It actually made me cry. And maybe it wasn’t all true, but was is true is that some people are suffering from these terrible conditions. And Mike’s work helps us, consumers to find responsibility in the choices that we make.
*There is a brief silence after which the line gets cut due to “technical difficulties” We’ll just have to wait and see what Tim Cook thought about Steve W’s advice in the near future…and although visible progress has been made, Apple has much more work to do in order to improve worker conditions…and Tim Cook definitely has a large role to play in it.