Apple CEO Cook Reiterates Commitment to Workers’ Welfare
Apple CEO Tim Cook made a rare appearance at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference Tuesday and he couldn’t have picked a better time for his first big investor event since the death of Steve Jobs.
Apple is on a tear after a monster quarter, the best in its 35-year history, and many believe it’s headed into one of its strongest product cycles ever, a stretch that will see a next-generation iPad in March, and a new iPhone and long-rumored Apple Television before the end of the year.
But it was a more troubling topic that he wanted to address first: Concerns about working conditions at its suppliers.
“The first thing that I want everyone to know — Apple takes working conditions very, very seriously,” he said. “And we have for a very long time. We care about every worker. I’ve spent a lot of time in factories personally and not just as an executive. I worked at a paper mill in Alabama and an aluminum plant in Virginia. So we are closely connected to the production process and we understand these manufacturing issues on a very granular level. We believe that every worker has a right to a fair and safe work environment … and Apple’s manufacturing partners must live up to this to do business with us.”
“No one in our industry is doing more to improve working conditions than Apple,” he continued. “We are constantly auditing facilities, going deep into the supply chain, looking for problems, finding problems, and more importantly fixing them. And we report everything because we believe that transparency is so very important in this area. I am so incredibly proud of the work our teams are doing in this area. They focus on the most difficult problems, and they stay with them until they fix them. They are truly a model for the industry.
“We think that the use of underage labor is abhorrent — it’s extremely rare in our supply chain, but our top priority is to eliminate it. If we find a supplier that intentionally hires underage labor, that’s a firing offense.”
“As you may have read,” Cook said, “the Fair Labor Association is doing an audit of our manufacturing partners. This audit is the most detailed in history of mass manufacturing in scale, scope and transparency, and I am looking forward to the results.”