Apple’s Transparency

by Ben Bajarin   |   January 25th, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 4.39.38 PM

I don’t hear the topic of transparency brought up nearly enough. I asked the question in my column today of what company is more healthy than Apple and now I ask what company is more transparent than Apple? The cost of being transparent is that inevitably you will expose some dirt. Most companies want to sweep dirt under the rug. But as I read the latest supplier responsibility progress report from Apple, it hit me that Apple is not just interested in exposing the dirt but actively trying to clean it up.

Now I know many tech companies do this but I have to emphasize that it is a very difficult problem and its not one that a company who is in a commodity race to the bottom would have the time or money to truly invest in. However, this most recent report from Apple released today included something that I thought was extremely interesting.

Take a look at the following core violations Apple found and the action taken.

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 4.04.58 PM

The part that stuck out to me was that Apple terminated business with the supplier. This is more than just a small detail. Apple chooses suppliers for very specific reasons largely unique to a product or process. Often times heavily customized processes are in place at these suppliers for Apple’s products thus making a relationship with that supplier more like an investment. For Apple to terminate business with a core supplier could have significant supply chain ramifications. Replacing that supplier is also not an overnight process but takes time and more equity to get a new supplier up to speed.

This is interesting to me because if all Apple was interested in was a pure profit motive, they would not have taken an action like this.

Here was another one I found interesting on the topic of bonded labor or human trafficking.

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 4.05.21 PM

Apple actively investigated and worked to resolve accounts of forced (slave) labor in factories that make their products. Again what does this say about Apple and their philosophy as a company? Are these moves a profit at all costs kind of action?

These kinds of things impact change of a positive nature. I know from many sources I speak with in the supply chain that getting a deal with Apple can literally change the fortunes of many overnight. Actions like this will hopefully help those companies bidding for Apple’s business in future product follow ethical principles in their business practices if they want a chance at Apple’s lucrative business.

Fascinating stuff and very encouraging. Obviously global supply chains are hard to manage and often filled with dark secrets most care to keep in the closet. We can only hope that continued work like this and greater corporate transparency becomes common practice throughout the industry.

Tags:

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research. He is a husband, father, gadget enthusiast, trend spotter, early adopter and hobby farmer. Full Bio
  • stefn

    Apple’s recycling program is impressive as well: http://www.apple.com/recycling. As mobile devices get cheaper I fear WALL-E dumps. Android junk. What’s Google’s accountability for devices that use the engine it designed, deployed, and profits from? Doing nothing? Doing no evil?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WTHOMHZSMJDKIBZ7CNEPYNWJVM Bob B

    I think that Apple has done a good job here. I’m still wondering why more tech companies haven’t followed suit.

    • http://www.acid-product.co.uk Ian Davies

      Because most tech companies are ‘profit at all cost’ types, as opposed to Apple, who gets the rap for such from people too lazy to do anything but repeat the same tired old trope.