Apple Inc. has surprised the general public by releasing a list of its major suppliers across the globe. For such a secretive organisation that is extremely possessive over its inner workings, releasing this list for the first time is an unexpected move.
The introduction to the audit report (.pdf) reads:
The following is an alphabetical listing of Apple production suppliers. These suppliers represent 97 percent of Apple's procurement expenditures for materials, manufacturing, and assembly of Apple’s products worldwide.
The California-based company stated it conducted a total of 229 audits last year, increasing their usual audit output by 80 percent last year. The technology giant conducted a review of its supply chain on every level, from assembly to material supplies.
There have been suggestions that Apple has taken this step to tackle criticism about working conditions within its supply chain, and more transparency concerning them is required in order to preserve basic human rights -- especially Apple suppliers in countries that have known issues in this arena.
The company's Supplier Responsibility page states that:
Apple is committed to the highest standards of social responsibility across our worldwide supply chain. We insist that all of our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes. Our actions — from thorough site audits to industry-leading training programs — demonstrate this commitment.
Apple requires that suppliers follow their principles and standards of a 'supplier code of conduct'. Perhaps after recent factory inspections that found problems in areas including working hours and environment, the company will have to take larger note of what is going on within its increasing supplier base.
The report stated that Apple suppliers were in compliance with acceptable standards only 38 percent of the time. The supplier streams are increasing to cope with global demand for Apple products, and Chinese environmental and work activists have protested against the company's previous reluctance to disclose supplier details.
It comes as the drumbeat of criticism against practices across the company's ballooning supplier footprint has grown from prominent Chinese environmental activists and others. Many of those have taken aim at the company's prior unwillingness to disclose all the suppliers it works with.
Reports suggest Apple Inc. will be taking additional steps after this audit report release to ensure that working conditions in factories remain above-board and at acceptable levels. This includes additional auditing and a worker's education program.
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