Apple's Policy on Conflict Minerals, Workforce Conditions, and Supplier Ethics

A buddy of mine at a local networking group asked me about the ethical posture of one vendor, Apple, Inc.

Apple released its environmental responsibility report for 2013 this year.

Apple issued its first conflict minerals report in May 2014. In that report, Apple identified that a majority of its suppliers are in the clear

Apple does have a public supplier responsibility policy and a documented Supplier Code of Conduct

That said, as recent as Dec 2013, Pegatron and Foxxcon reviews slighted Apple for workforce conditions in China.

An article from The Guardian in March of this year outlines sustainability and workforce improvements made by Apple since that report.

In my opinion, with any firm, I think what you'd want to look for is management intent. Is there intent on behalf of management to be transparent, to cooperate with recognized 3rd parties to investigate report on compliance, with a willingness to disclose sensitive information.

I think you see this intent at Apple.

Myself, I'm a little concerned with Microsoft, when it's CEO recently suggested that women shouldn't ask for raises because it's good karma to not ask for them, but hey, you get to choose who you do business with.

Apple isn't perfect. It will make mistakes. It's also not alone: in my opinion, Google, Nike, Starbucks, and Intel are also very transparent companies. Perhaps that's part of a larger trend brought on by both new federal regulation and progressive management policy? In either case, Apple's management does seem to show consistent commitment and intent to be both transparent and to improve its operations.

That awareness and sense of responsibility may mean something to you the next time you're planning on shopping for a tablet computer.