Is Apple an ethical company?
Apple Inc. is a multinational technology American company famous for their technology that creates and produces consumers electronics and server such as the Iphone, Ipad, Ipod, Iwatch, Macbook and many more. However they have a reputation for having poor working conditions of the workers in Foxconn, one of Apple’s biggest suppliers in China.
Employers Working Condition
Many employees in Foxconn are committing suicides and dying due to over exhausting working hours and overcrowding dormitories (Kieren, M 2015). Chinese workers usually work shifts of 11 to 13 hours and are supposed to stay in a dormitory room of 8 pax. However workers at Foxconn were forced to squeeze 12 pax a room instead. Usually when a new product is out, working hours get extended to the point workers fall asleep while on their duties at their workstation which is highly hazadous as they are surrounded by electrical machineries and will increase their chances of getting injured or electrocuted.
Companies should not compromise ethics and instead use it as a driving point towards a competitive advantage. However due to the highly competitive industry, Apple is leaning towards unethical practices to maximise its profits. Although Apple claims that they have made improvements to the work conditions however current workers and undercover reporters have proved otherwise (Dave, N 2012). Even though Foxconn is tarnishing Apple’s reputation, Apple is just taking advantage of this situation of the chinese factory’s low wages and long working hours to maximise the production of Iphones. These lack of disciplinary actions by Apple proves that they are not doing enough to protect workers labour and human rights.
Supplier and Customer Relations
Tin is heavily used in Iphones and Apple gets its tin from illegal sea and mud miners in indonesia. The sea miners built dozens of illegal makeshift pontoons together to retrieve muddy tin ore from the sea bed. Based on the video, they use a 75 foot drill which penetrates into the sea bed and pulls out the tin sand. Although Apple promises to protect the environment, filthy sediment can be seen polluting the water. Not only is this bad for the wild sea creatures, it is also affecting the coral reefs that are dying. It would take at least 20 years for the coral to grow back and it will be possible if the corals are not further damaged by sand being thrown back in. As a result, wild sea creatures have to relocate as their habitat is damaged.
Children as young as 14 years old were found working in the mud pit where there were frequent landslides. Miners have to use water jets to spray the mud and scrabble in a damp pond at the bottom trying to extract tin ore by hands (Jim, E 2014). These spraying causes landslides which leads miners to be buried alive and leading to death. The mining deforests the landscape, transforming a lush tropical jungle into a moonscape. It is a negative impact on the animals and plants as their habitat gets destroyed and also lead to climate change.
Apple has been found engaging in tax avoidance by transferring intellectual property created in the United States to offshore tax havens in Ireland to avoid taxes on profits from that property. “Apple may have paid as little as 0.7% tax in the European Union (EU) from 2015- 2017.” (Martin. B ; Emma. C 2018) Apple has paid very little on it foreign profits (Appendix A) and Ireland has artificially reduced Apple’s taxes for over two decades which breached European Union (EU) rules. Avoiding tax and playing around with the loopholes of the tax system is not illegal however it is not very ethical. Big companies like Apple should have greater social responsibilities for ethical leadership and uphold high standards but instead they showcased bad behaviour.
In this ever highly competitive industry, Apple strives to be the best of rest but lacks to be ethical to minimise costs of production and maximise profits to have a strategic fit. They do not come up with permanent solution to their problems and either turn a blind eye or play around with the law. Apple did not set the bars high in terms of their ethical practices as what the world perceived them to do but due to their high loyalty consumer base, consumers continue to purchase their luxurious products despite knowing what Apple did. (2016)
McCarthy, K. (2015) Another death in Apple’s ‘Mordor’- its Foxconn Chinese assembly plant. The Register.
Foxconn: Working Conditions in Chinese Factories http://www.facing-finance.org/en/database/cases/working-conditions-in-foxconn-factories-in-china/
Dave, N (2012) Reporter goes undercover at factory https://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2204942/reporter-goes-undercover-at-foxconn-factory
Jim, E (2014) Apple’s Iphone Suppliers Use Children To Dig In Lethally Dangerous Mud Pits for Tin Ore, The BBC Alleges http://uk.businessinsider.com/secret-filming-inside-apple-factory-bbc-panorama-2014-12/?IR=T
Martin Brehm Christensen and Emma Clancy (2018) Exposed : Apple’s Golden Delicious Tax Deals http://www.guengl.eu/uploads/news-documents/Apple_report_final_1.pdf
Ethical Practices in Apple Inc. http://www.expertwritinghelp.com/samples/Ethical%20practices%20in%20Apple%20Inc%20(Report).pdf
Destiny. M (2015) Inside Apple’s Factories: Do Apple factories meet ethical working conditions? http://www.corporateresponsibilitynetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/topics-corporate-responsibility-society/151212_regents_inside-apple-factories.pdf
Apples Ethics and Social Responsibility (2016) https://studymoose.com/apples-ethics-and-social-responsibility-essay