Apple has received significant and persistent media attention for its relationship with Foxconn*, a key manufacturer for the global electronics industry. This attention came to a head early in 2012 with a lengthy New York Times story about working conditions at Foxconn facilities in China supplying products for Apple.
Domini has been paying close attention to working conditions in Apple’s supply chain for several years, and has played an instrumental role in moving the company in the right direction. In 2005, we convinced Apple to adopt its first code of conduct, setting strong standards for its suppliers to follow to protect the basic rights of workers manufacturing Apple products. The code was adopted shortly before the company’s first sweatshop controversy, which also related to Foxconn. Shortly thereafter, the company began monitoring its supply chain and producing transparent annual reports about these efforts and working conditions in these facilities. We have been meeting with the company at least annually since the adoption of their code. Domini was also a lead drafter and coordinator of an investor statement in response to worker suicides at a Foxconn facility in 2010.
This year, Apple made two significant announcements – it released the names of its major suppliers, and joined the Fair Labor Association (FLA), an organization providing thorough and transparent audits of factories for many apparel companies, such as Nike and Adidas. Apple is the first company in its industry to join the FLA. The FLA conducted thorough audits of Foxconn on Apple’s behalf, which were then released to the public, resulting in additional media coverage. We organized an investor call with Apple in April to discuss the FLA’s findings and to receive an update on the company’s supply chain efforts. The FLA audits revealed a number of significant, recurring problems. We discussed Apple’s plans to address these problems, and intend to regroup with Apple later in the year to assess progress.