The Social Responsibility of Apple
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Apple Company is driven by the practice of the highest standard of social responsibility to both its workers and chain of suppliers. The company is mandated to the provision of safe working environment to the workers. Their value is to accord respect to workers and deploy manufacturing processes that are environmentally friendly. It is through this spirit of upholding the company’s ethos that the company is committed to its social responsibility. The company outlines its responsibilities in areas such human labor, health, safety, and environmental management (APPLE Report, 2011).
The company’s continued effort in exercising their code of conduct is outlined further in their commitment to monitor the compliance of their activities. This is efficiently done through the factory’s auditing procedures, corrective action plans, and measures of verifications. They also have extensive capacity building to the overall management of the company (Warr, 1986). These on site programs are aimed at addressing the underlying issues within the industry groups and other stakeholders. Capacity building is also meant to enforce the trust between the company and suppliers and workers. Social responsibility, therefore, remains fundamental tool to Apple’s business (Warr, 1986).
Apple’s social responsibility include complete monitoring on compliance of supply materials, and expansion on training facilities in order to absorb more workers within the company. Through capacity building initiative, workers are supposed to understand their rights and the accorded protections whenever such rights are violated. The company also draws remarkably from various resources to protect the right of workers who undertake jobs in the foreign countries. The situations that clout foreign workers comprise exorbitant charges that plunge workers into debt. Apple move to curb these violations are part of their incredible activities. They engage in search of these violations and respond positively to protect the right of workers. Suppliers in the foreign branches are also protected through constant auditing of production. These standards have so far seen workers remunerated well, and recruitment fee is also lowered. For example, in Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore, in the year 2008, there was a reimbursement $3.4 million to cater for overcharges that were imposed on the recruitment fee. This was followed by rigorous training to the foreign workers in areas of ethical and legal obligations. Suppliers of the products are also trained on how to conduct their recruitment process in order to improve business practices (Apple Report, 2011).
Apple Company is committed to prevention of child labor. They company is equipped with facilities that verify the age factor and are able to detect underage workers. To contain this situation, they participate in education to instill best practices in managing recruitment of the third parties. The company’s significant move is to ensure that the underage are returned to school and levies imposed on them as education fee is paid. To ensure free conflict environment in the work place, apple’s responsibility has been to identify areas of potential conflict within the suppliers as well as the workers. This paper, therefore, provides a detailed social responsibility undertaken by Apple Company to its workers, suppliers and consumers (Deane, 1997).
Empowering workers remains the central responsibility and focus of Apple Company. The company has undertaken various measures and strategies to ensure that there is awareness among workers. This is done through social trainings of managers, supervisors and workers. For example, in the year 2009, the company organized a training program for all workers, managers and supervisors. This particular on site training was meant for those who worked on apple products. The training was based on the rights of the workers under apple code of conduct (Apple Progress Report, 2011). Extension on the training initiative was facilitated by ensuring subsequent additional of training facilities which enabled delivery of social training. Areas that are given major focus during the training process include rights of the workers, laws regarding labor, prevention of occupational diseases and work related injuries, general health and safety measures. Apple Company also ensures that their social responsibility is lived by training managers and supervisors on various ways to protect the interest of the workers. The overall purpose of training within the company is to impact social responsibility and trust from the company to the workers as well as workers to the company (Apple Report, 2011; John et al, 1976).
Throughout the training process towards empowering workers, quality is of the essence to the company. It is within their mandate to enhance training of high quality. They have achieved this through bringing other companies on board to facilitate training process. This has been the inclusion of internationally recognized NGOs like fair labor association. It provides a critical evaluation of training regarding social responsibility involving the high level assembly manufacturers (Kenichie, 1999). Venturing into training issues is to increase the level of awareness among workers especially on their right to work. The training is also meant to eliminate harassment, discrimination and grievances that may arise from the workers. Apple Company has undertaken this through initiating various interactive sessions between employers and employees to get employees perceptions and expectations (Ruggie, 2004).
Foreign workers protection
Foreign workers and suppliers have been harassed at the work place. Examples are in countries like Malaysia, and Taiwan. They are also charged exorbitantly in terms of recruitment fee. However, through various audits that the company carried out, they were able to establish forms of exploitations that have been subjected to migrant workers. Apple addresses these issues through taking actions that regard hiring practices that are outside company’s ethos. Foreign workers have been embarked through a complex recruitment process. They paid exorbitant recruitment fee to obtain work permit. Following this mismanagement in the recruitment process, Apple Company has moved swiftly to protect its workers in the foreign country. Some of the measures have included measures for recruiting foreign workers such as reimbursement of charges in cases of overcharge. Other future measures towards protection of workers have included working together with governments’ agencies and stakeholders to educate suppliers on how to improve recruitment practices. Workers have also been enlightened on their obligations to legal and ethical issues surrounding their work environment (Zadek, 2004).
Issues of recruitment fee are the central focus to Apple Company. In cases where suppliers have engaged third parties, workers have been rendered into debts especially in accessing employment. Apple Company has a strict code of ethics that regulates and prohibits debt and overcharges in labor industry. They ensure that their recruitment fee is limited and equivalent to that of monthly wages. The code of conducts requires that the suppliers embark on reimbursement of overcharge funds to foreigners who are contract workers (Cogan, 2003).
Auditing programs are also provided to the countries known to be the destination of the contract workers. For example, apple has done the exercise in Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia relating to facilities that are available in those countries. The key organization of the auditing process involved proper understanding of workers rights, laws that govern their rights and the language that they understand best in the destination country (Holliday, 2002). Apple has been able to prevent foreign contract workers violation by putting significant business clout behind. It however, focuses on initiatives that changes relationships between labor brokers, and suppliers. They have also reiterated their commitments towards work related issues in the foreign countries. This work issues entails cases of debts and unethical recruitment. Their auditing programs have been supported by a number of companies such as standards for prevention of involuntary labor. Main areas of concern in protection of foreign workers have been focused in areas such as workers grievances, management of various agencies, handling of workers transports, work requirements, and other management practices associated with the company. Other measures to sustain social responsibilities of the company have been to uphold suppliers as totally responsible for the recruitment practices. This is emphasized in agencies that deal with work related issues and recruitment practices.
According to progress report of Apple Company for the year 2010, there were various auditing undertaken at 18 facilities at the most risky countries. The results revealed how most workers have paid exorbitant fees for the recruitment process. The company was to ask the suppliers involved in the recruitment process to embark on reimbursement process. Apple Company also curtailed such cases by ensuring that there was an initiated workshop for all the management bodies especially those in Taiwan. The workshop was meant to cover ways of preventing forced labor, and child labor. Other practices that were discussed and implemented by the company included monitoring labor agency and its related practices, processes of hiring, and management of foreign workers on site. The company incorporated countries like Thailand, Philippines, and Taiwan into management programs in order to protect foreign workers. The talk was supposed to offer a wide range of information. Information was supposed to accessed and shared across the aforementioned countries. This is to protect the rights of the foreign workers. Provision of laws and programs regarding recruitment practices were also initiated to ensure that management issues and hiring processes are properly handled (Deming, 1986).
Child labor prevention
The company does not make a nuisance of child labor. Any worker that is found below the stipulated working age has grossly violated apple company code of conduct. This audit reports showing cases of underage workers usually call for immediate actions that include those of returning such workers to school. Once one is redirected back to education mainstream, all the funds regarding educational practices are provided. To ensure that there will be no repeat of such cases, the company usually moves to improve on the management facilities and human resource. Apple Company has established both educational and vocational facilities to improve on the sources of labor. Institutions ensure that the provided workers meet labor demands (Baron, 2007).
Practices in search for underage laborers also became central concern for Apple Company. In 2010, for example, the company did a search on underage labor by interviewing workers regarding their recruitment procedures. The other areas that were scrutinized include workers identity and employment status. Lack of scrutiny on labor issues clouded Chinese labor practices. There were established unsophisticated materials for hiring workers. These systems were inconsistent in terms of verifying the age of workers and their identities. To ensure utmost social responsibility, the company has instituted policies and procedures. This is aimed at preventing recruitment of underage workers. Training of managers is also undertaken within the company, and the affected areas in order to enhance that recruitment of workers are done on the best ways possible. The company has also required various suppliers to take up the responsibilities of taking underage workers back to school. They are also required to meet the expenses that may be incurred in school, this also include the payments regarding living standards. Necessary support is also accorded to students who are taken back to school to meet their needs and boost expectations. However, underage workers are not just taken back to school. Apple ensures that the family members especially parents are contacted and students are enrolled in schools. The progress is monitored through check ups. Monitoring is also done on the educational and career options of the students in areas that interest them the most (Apple Progress Report, 2011).
The key social responsibility of the apple industry is to prevent and proscribe underage labor. There are established standards within the company towards prevention of underage labor. These standards contain methods of preventing underage labor. The standards also give clarification on the responsibilities of managers especially with regards to recruiting workers. Workers are required to maintain proper documentation and verification of age before any recruitment is done. The labor standards also demands that issues regarding labor and employments are uphold. Employment agencies and school programs are suppose to exercise efficacy in bringing on board employees. This is a responsibility that is left for the suppliers. Apple Company has also launched a training initiative with interactive workshop between human resource managers and workers as well as the suppliers. This workshop is meant to provide an opportunity to share information regarding challenges and gain best practices. Individual interaction between the company and suppliers has also favored implementation of measures and strategies to improve management systems (Deane, 1997).
Conflict free environment
Social responsibility of Apple Company has also been extended to an environment that is free from conflicts. Areas where raw materials are extracted require that it does not conflict with the expectations of the local inhabitants, especially their social way of life. Extraction of materials such as metals is done in a more friendly way. To ensure that this act is maintained to the standards, Apple Company ensures that their suppliers only supply materials that are outsourced to a conflict free environment. The extraction of materials must always adhere to the company’s regulations and standards on maintaining a healthy and friendly environment for humans. However, the company usually face a great challenge, since mining of core materials used in the industry is done mainly by family members or the businesses of mining is a family run. The company’s combination of chain of suppliers makes it difficult to track and establish the exact place of mining (Ruggie, 2004).
Despite of the challenges faced, apple is still strong to face and tackle the various challenges imposed on the environment. The company develops mechanisms that map the supply chain to a smelter level. This is to enable the company to identify particular suppliers that supply low quality raw materials. The act of tracking supply chain helps in establishing whether resources are obtained from a conflict free environment. Apple Company also works in a joint effort with other global initiatives towards environmental sustainability. The main aim of these initiatives is to validate the practices by smelters on the ores and free conflict sources. The company also lives to their business ethics. Through this they ensure that only smelters that meet the company code of ethics for environmental sustainability are allowed to smelt the sources of metals. Smelters are, therefore, required to smelt only from sources that comply with company’s standards (Warr, 1986).
The other major obligation of the company regarding extractions is to identify the origin of ores. This is followed by a credible validation on whether the sources are safe for human health. To ensure that everything is put under proper procedure and guideline, the company audits to identify smelters who show that company secure extractions from sources which are not disputed. The process of auditing includes a thorough review of procedures of doing business and documents the sources of raw materials and methods of purchases. The company also has the obligation to declare the supplier as a noncompliant to the company’s rules. This, however, happens in a situation where there is enough evidence that the material raises conflict. Sometimes smelters fail to participate in the auditing processes or fail to produce a good documentation on the source of the material. This is enough evidence to prove that the source of the ore or the ore itself is conflicting. To contain this conflicting situation, apple company purchase materials from the suppliers who source materials from a conflict free mine or environment. Practices like validation of the sources have also been incorporated in the regular auditing program (Cogan, 2003).
Social responsibility of a company such as apple in the corporate world does not rest anywhere. Monitoring program has been part of the apple company. The key responsibility of the audit program is to ensure that conditions under which the company’s product is manufactured are socially and environmentally responsible. For compliance of facilities, Apple Company has participated in auditing program. According to progress report of 2011, the company management asserts that the facility that passes the test of compliance within a company is capable of producing the greatest impact. The procedure of auditing involves a series of interviews with employees, contract workers, and firm’s management team in their areas of the profession (John et al, 1976).
Management is sometimes blamed on lack of compliance for facilities. This happens in situations where the management structure weak to support compliance of materials. However, the overall process of auditing usually shows compliance to a number of facilities. Lack of managerial capability drives Apple Company to act upon social responsibility by conducting an examination process to the management system. The company, therefore, defines policies and procedures, responsibilities, roles and training programs that ensure that proper management systems are put into practice. In cases where the violation of the program is recognized, the company undertakes its social responsibility by ensuring that corrective action plan is highly implemented. The implementation of the corrective action plan is supposed to address issues regarding violations of code of conduct within the apple’s company.
The goal of monitoring compliance of facilities wins trust of workers, employers as well as consumers. It is therefore, within the mandate of Apple Company and its existence on a business world, to ensure that all its facilities comply with the code of ethics regarding the business. The result of this assurance and trust is to maintain the social responsibilities for the consumers of technology and the employees’ population. Interactive verification on the audit program is an assurance that actions are undertaken to ensure social responsibility. This enhanced collaborating with various suppliers to fully address issues dealing with compliance (Friedman, 1970).
Violations of ethical standards remain a key concern of the apple company. There are various forms of violations, but the major one being the core violations. Core violation is the practices that are against the code and practices of the apple company. Examples of such violations may include underage workers, harassment, discrimination, involuntary labor, falsification of the audited materials and creating a non conducive environment which may impose significant threats to the work environment (Kenichie, 1999).
In circumstances where violations are detected, Apple Company has moved to provide possible solutions to such problems. The strategies are staged to ensure that there is safety, healthy conditions for human living, works rights, and socially conducive environment. Core violations also require that management facilities are put under probation annually in order to ensure that core violations does not occur again. Alongside probation period, Apple Company also works in collaboration with the supplies to explore possible solutions to challenges imposed. The collaborative work focuses on verifications towards corrective measures and set a side improvement strategy.
Another challenge that faced Apple Company is suicidal acts by the company’s workers. Workers were reported to take their lives in the company’s facilities. Since Apple Company is committed to ensuring that their social responsibility is uphold, they engaged other experts from across the globe. These experts took action towards preventing other strategies related to suicide at the work facilities. Taking of one’s life is a saddening event and can cause the company through losing confidence in their activities especially by the consumer world. The resultant effect of this is lack of competent participation in the world’s business economy. Social responsibility has since been reiterated within the company by hiring suicide prevention professionals. These specialists act mainly to give advisory services to the company in line with suicide matters (Deming, 1986).
The other areas to ensure that social responsibility is upheld in the business world, especially by Apple Company, saw them constitute a committee. The commission is charged with responsibility of reviewing any reported issue on suicide within the committee. The committee also consists of suicide experts that offer possible prevention mechanisms within the facilities. The constituted team is suppose to investigate on the cause of suicides within the companies facilities, responses to such case, and to recommend the best strategies that should be implemented to help prevent recurrence of such a situation in the future.
Other challenges consist of exposure to toxic chemicals or gases. Some irritant chemicals are inhaled within the company by the workers. This is sometimes caused by poor ventilation in the factory, lack of proper handling and disposal of waste materials, inadequate risk assessment measures and training facilities in handling and responding to emergencies. For example, Apple Company has been exposed to a gas referred to as N-Hexane. This is a chemical used as cleaning agents in the factory in manufacturing procedures. In situations where the operations were carried out without ensuring proper ventilation, the gas was reported to have become toxic. This, however, goes against the Apple social responsibility which is to protect the workers from being endangered or exposed to any substance that may become a threat to their safety and general well being. The use of the gas within the facility pushed Apple Company to order for the stoppage of use of the gas and consequent removal of the gas from the facility. There was needed urgency within the apple facilities in terms of fixing ventilations within the facilities. To cover future recurrence of gases within the facility, apple management has stepped in to work with various experts to improve on environmental health and safety policies or measures. General monitoring of preventive actions is also done by the company, their implementation especially of the corrective measures and auditing of the procedures and the progress of policies to put in place in order to avoid violation of core social responsibilities of the apple company (Ruggie, 2004 and Apple Progress Report, 2011.
In line with those who were affected with the toxic chemicals, the company always ensures that their medical cover is taken care of properly until they fully recuperate. Workers who are victims in such circumstances are paid their wages that they may have lost when they are sick in the hospital. They are also provided with meals and the company subsequently continues to monitor their medical progress and prepare a full report of the medical cover up to the time that they are fully recovered. When the workers who are sick register full recovery to the problem, they are ensured that they are returned to their work place so as to continue recovering their economic loses too (Zadek, 2004).
Apple mandate is premised at the safeguarding of their social responsibility at the work environment as well as the general environment. In cases where discrimination has been exhibited, apple’s company code has been applied effectively to protect workers as well as members of the general business world from various forms of discrimination. The code of conduct within apple’s company protect against discrimination, be it on the basis of sex, race, gender, color or any other form of sexual orientation. It also covers areas to do with ethnicity, religious beliefs, any form of disability, and any form of health conditions of workers, employers as well as the consumers among other factors. In cases where such violations are undertaken in the form of discrimination against others, Apple Company has taken corrective actions to ensure that such practices are recognized as violations of human rights and their dignity. If cases are registered within the facility, the company always requires that the facility move quickly to discontinue these forms of practices. This is achieved through establishing clear guidelines and policies regarding respect to human dignity in order to prevent any future occurrence of such violations (Holliday, 2002).
In terms of working hours, the code of work ethics requires that a worker takes 60 work hours per week. The code of the company also stipulates that a person or worker is given at least one day of rest per week among the seven working days in a week. In the case where there are emergencies, the workers are always given time to attend to their emergencies. However, sometimes these are not the case in the company; for example, there have been situations where workers have exceeded their working hours. Some cases have been registered where workers have overworked for more than six days per month. This is taken to be a violation of code of conduct regarding the number of hours one is suppose to discharge their duties. In situations where such violations have been noticed, the company has so far responded by developing a proper management system to improve on the existing management system. This set of the management system is suppose to drive and ensure that there is compliance with working hours that are recommended by the company. This is to ensure that the working hours are limited, and at least there must be one day of rest for workers in a week (Friedman, 1970).
There are times that there are injuries related to occupation within the company. The core mandate of apple social responsibility is to ensure that safe and healthy environment is provided for the workers. They undertake this by ensuring that there is complete elimination of physical threats within the facilities. Further measures have been to establish an administrative body that regulates and controls the risks that may occur in the work environment. All dangerous machines in the facilities are equipped with the safety devices, and regular maintenance is also performed especially on the old materials to ensure any possible risk is avoided. This is done through the establishment of schedules on which maintenance and inspection is carried out. On this day, the workers are not supposed to report working so as to eliminate any potential injury that may occur. Workers are also subjected to the appropriate training on the safety measures as a response to curb injuries within the facility. They are always equipped with disaster preparedness equipments, licenses and certificates as required by law on industrial maintenance (Deane, 1997).
Emergency preparedness and response is always at the centre of any company, and Apple Company is not an exception. The company’s code requires that the possible threat to the company is anticipated, and identified by the management team in time. Assessment on the nature of the situation is also carried out. This is done to ensure that there is a minimum impact of any emergency by ensuring that policies regarding safety measures are implemented with both response plans and procedures.
Towards emergency prevention, the company has responded by ensuring that there is an adequate supply of facilities involving the supply of first aid kits. Areas that have potential dangers have been supplied with construction of first aid stations in order to contain situations arising from emergencies. The first aid area is maintained under good condition all the time, with a constant supply of the necessary materials to provide access and actions during the time of emergencies. Apple Company’s also respond to construct exit points in the facilities. They are always checked to ensure that they are spacious enough to easier evacuation during the time of an emergency (Apple report, 2011).
Ergonomics is also another area addressed by the company as part of their social responsibility. The company has codes that require for the assessment of facilities that are likely to cause ergonomic risks and threats. Where such cases are identified, serious response has always been instituted to avoid dangers that may be exposed to workers. Workstations have been designed to provide good posture during the working hours and other work glasses such as the magnifying glasses to ensure proper visibility. Workers are also rotated in the working station especially from one task to another to ensure that there is a reduction in the competitive motion that may confuse the workers. Other responses to ergonomics risks have included hiring professional workers. They are supposed to identify areas in the operations regarding manufacturing that is likely to cause risks and other injuries. They are then supposed to give recommendations on measures to be taken to curb any risk that might come out (Apple Report, 2011).
The overall mandate of Apple Company regarding social responsibility has been to provide the best management practices. They emphasize on the management commitment to the code regarding social responsibility. These management issues may concern bringing on board dedicated team that is accountable for the compliance of the facilities within the company. The management is also charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the various implementations are undertaken regarding the procedures of corrective measures. This is particularly important when areas of conflict are identified within the facilities. The company, in the midst of ensuring that there are proper management procedures. They also ensure that there are training programs on site for both workers and managers. This is to ensure that there is strong human resource. Appointments are also done based on the qualifications and therefore, highly qualified personnel are brought on board. The aim is that various and important measures are implemented in the company and daily operations on the business undertaken.
Apple Company has been in the forefront in demonstrating its genuine commitment to the global business economy. They have addressed complex business issues in regard to social responsibility within the business companies. Their main interest area has been in recruitment issues, underage workers and general empowerment of workers. Towards achieving their goals, they have taken positive steps by establishing certain limits to control and regulate violations that may occur. In cases of overcharge of recruitment fee, they have been crusaders to reimbursement of such charges. Just like any other company, challenges continue to be the format of daily battle. These obstacles are meant to redefine the steps necessary to define the responsible role the business company protect the rights of workers, managers and consumers.
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