Apple has released its yearly supplier responsibility progress report, detailing exactly what processes are in place to protect workers and how well they’ve worked over the past year. More than 700 suppliers around the world were audited to compile this report, with each given a score out of 100 representing its compliance with Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct.
The results are mixed, though it does show Apple has a lot of promising initiatives in place to force its suppliers to behave more ethically. It’s interesting reading for anyone who has ever heard rumors of poor working conditions in overseas factories and wants to understand the truth of the matter.
Let’s start with the bad: “core violations” have doubled year-on-year, from 22 incidents up to 44. These violations represent times where suppliers have disregarded Apple’s conduct rules in a serious way; most of them involve falsifying work hours to allow employees to work longer than the mandated 60-hour maximum per week.
Apple’s explanation is that it has taken on a lot of new partners this year to meet increased product demands, and it will take time for some of those suppliers to fall into line with its rules. There are procedures in place intended to stop these problems repeating, and we’d hope to see core violations down again next year. If suppliers can’t work to these guidelines they should be ditched in favor of more responsible companies – the question is, if demand rises again will Apple have the guts to fire part of its workforce?
Next, the good: by most other metrics, Apple’s efforts to ensure its overseas workers are treated fairly seem to be working. The number of “high performers” (suppliers with an audit score above 90) is up 35%, while the number of “low performers” (those scoring less than 60) have dropped by 71%. There have been zero health and safety violations in the past two years, and Apple has trained more than 3 million employees on their rights.
Apple continues to impress with its environmental efforts, raising the bar in terms of clean energy and zero waste schemes. It has been named the world’s top company with regards to responsible sourcing of conflict minerals.
Finally, the report also saw the launch of a new women’s health program designed to “empower female employees to improve their health awareness” in topics such as maternal health, cancer detection, and personal care.
If you want to know more, you can read the entire 59-page report here.