Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct includes more than twenty categories, which are published on their website in; the file provides a detailed description of different areas and dimensions and explains why the Code of Conduct is essential for the company and, therefore, its suppliers. The company has made changes in the following areas: accountability, empowering workers, labor and human rights, and environment, health and safety, (Apple Inc., 2017).
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The company conducts audits based on different risks of a facility such as social, environmental, and business risks (Apple Inc., 2017). Moreover, the company also examines the previous audit performance of a facility to understand how to prioritize the conducted audits. Furthermore, the company also uses anonymous complaint systems to ensure that every worker can report workplace violations and retaliations. Conducted audits are also reviewed by local third-party experts; this is done in order to show that Apple’s audits are free of possible bias or prejudices towards a facility. Moreover, audits supported by third-party experts are expected to be professional and quality (Apple Inc., 2017). The company avoids unethical business practices and strives to ensure that every supplier strictly follows the rules and demands expressed in the Code of Conduct because Apple sees itself a socially and environmentally responsible enterprise. That is why the company conducts thorough investigations of possible human right and environmental violations. Furthermore, the company’s representatives also develop a plan of improvement if any violations are detected; the company and the supplier work on the issues together so that the company can assess the improvement later. In 2015, 640 audits were conducted (Apple Inc., 2017). As the company’s mission and vision are directly linked to social change, it needs to work only with those suppliers that will agree to the expressed demands; some violations might lead to the contract’s termination.
The next area is labor and human rights. Apple requires all suppliers that used underage labor to return children home and pay for their education until the child reaches the legal working age. It appears that this was done due to the several human right violations detected in 2013 and 2016. The company had to investigate child labor at the suppliers’ facility; child labor negatively influenced the company’s image as well because of their focus on changes and empowerment in society (Apple Inc., 2017). The supplier compliance has increased by 5% in 2016 (Apple Inc., 2017). The current trends in global business indicate that human rights and safe labor are becoming more important, especially for multinational enterprises such as Apple or Google. Therefore, the company cannot rely on or sign contracts with suppliers that cannot prove their competency in the discussed areas. First, it is contradictory to the company’s mission (Apple Inc., 2017). Second, the company’s image and reputation revolve around societal innovation and change, which is why violations in this area will inevitably harm Apple and its products. The company strongly relies on the ideas and lifestyle associated with its products, and any complaints of violated human rights and safety will eventually backlash.
As it was already mentioned, empowering workers is another demand in the Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct (Apple Inc., 2017). The company provides the Supplier Employee Education and Development program to help employees study, find opportunities, and develop their skills. In 2015, 558,692 employees took part in SEED (Apple Inc., 2017). The company’s demand for suppliers also includes workers’ education about their rights, local laws, and safety regulations (Apple Inc., 2017). The company’s focus on employees’ rights and development led to the creation of different programs, such as Rural Education Action Program, where the system created in collaboration with Dell Inc. and Stanford University positively influenced students’ skills and performance (Apple Inc., 2017). It should be noted that the concern of multinational corporations and enterprises with labor standards led to an improvement of these standards on a global scale (Toffel, Short, & Ouellet, 2012). This is yet another reason why Apple sees its Code of Conduct as extremely important: the developed rules help improve labor standards all over the world, not only in the offices and factories related to the company. It is reasonable to mention that Apple associates its products with development, new opportunities, and modernity; that is why it is essential for the company to ensure that its employees have the chance to develop as well. Toffel et al. (2012) point out that the potential of conduct codes is to improve the conditions related to workers and environment globally. Apple is one of the major players in this field, and the suppliers need to take it into consideration.
The issue of environment, climate change, and green production and marketing is frequently discussed in media and scholarly papers. Apple’s approach towards green production and environmental sustainability is stable. The company has several programs that address the issue, for example, Clean Energy Program that aims to reduce carbon emissions among the company’s supply chain (Apple Inc., 2017). The company expects to reduce 20 million metric tons of carbon emissions in China by 2020 (Apple Inc., 2017).
The company also highly values recycling and reuse of materials; internal packaging and shipping packaging are reused, and food waste is also controlled (Apple Inc., 2017). The impact of waste and unreasonable utilization of materials on the environment is extremely adverse, and Apple, as a company highly focused on innovation, expects the same approach from its suppliers. It is impossible to maintain environmental sustainability if suppliers do not support this method; that is why it is essential to understand that recycling and disposal of waste needs to be conducted so that the company can continue implementing the innovative approaches it develops.
The water scarcity is another problem that the company addresses. Since 2013, 3.8 billion gallons of freshwater were saved by the company and its suppliers (Apple Inc., 2017).
In 2015, 1591 environment, health, and safety projects were implemented (Apple Inc., 2017). The programs are linked to the issue of violated safety and health of employees; the company strives to address the issue by educating managers about emergency preparedness and hazardous materials (Apple Inc., 2017). Furthermore, the company also provides employees with safety equipment. As it can be seen, safety is the number one priority in Apple; many of the domains discussed above see the safety of the working process as the main goal. In 2016, the company created 58 supplier partnerships to improve the safety of the chemical processes at supplier facilities (Apple Inc., 2017). It is also important to notice that the company created a list that includes the toxic chemicals prohibited for use during the manufacture. The issue of emergencies and accidents is addressed by the company on many levels, and it explores the “ways to replace restricted substances with greener alternatives” (Apple Inc., 2017). Thus, the suppliers need to reduce the amount of dangerous chemicals used in the manufacture so that the company’s programs related to safety are not adversely influenced by suppliers’ actions.
Apple Inc. (2012). Supplier responsibility. Web.
Toffel, M. W., Short, J. L., & Ouellet, M. (2012). Reinforcing regulatory regimes: How states, civil society, and codes of conduct promote adherence to global labor standards. Harvard Business School, 13(1), pp. 1-41.