Apple CEO: Any Suggestion That We Don’t Care About Supply Chain Workers Is “Patently False”
Apple cares about every worker in its supply chain, and any suggestion to the contrary is untrue. That’s the gist of the all-hands email sent to Apple employees today by CEO Tim Cook, who’s taken exception to a New York Times report claiming working conditions at the company’s overseas manufacturing partners are still sorely lacking.
In the message, first published by 9to5Mac, Cook says Apple is not “ignoring the human cost” of its supply chain, and dismisses accusations that it is complicit in worker abuse as mendacious.
“We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern,” Cook wrote. “Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It’s not who we are.”
And for evidence of that, one need only look at Apple’s supplier-responsibility efforts. If there are problems at overseas suppliers, says Cook, no one is doing more than Apple to prevent them.
“Every year we inspect more factories, raising the bar for our partners and going deeper into the supply chain,” Cook explained. “As we reported earlier this month, we’ve made a great deal of progress and improved conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers. We know of no one in our industry doing as much as we are, in as many places, touching as many people.”
Which is probably true. Apple has been conducting supplier-responsibility audits and issuing reports on them for years now. And it recently became the first tech company to join the Fair Labor Association, which will serve as an independent auditor for its supply chain.
That said, there’s still a lot more to be done, and Apple could likely do it. With the $13 billion in profits it reported earlier this week, and that $97 billion in cash it’s sitting on, it’s hard to argue otherwise.
As a former Apple executive told the New York Times, “Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn’t have another choice.”
An overly simplistic argument, I suppose. The solutions to these issues are far more complex than threats over contracts. But again, more could be done. And not just by Apple. There are plenty of other big consumer electronics companies using offshore labor. And ultimately, the biggest driver of these issues isn’t Apple or HP, but our own buying habits.