Apple Publishes its Supplier Responsibility Progress Report for 2012

Apple has posted its Supplier Responsibility Progress Report for 2012 on its website that details the steps it takes in dealing with suppliers and how workers are treated.

All companies must adhere to Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct if they want to do business with them, and part of that includes both scheduled and surprise audits of working conditions in factories and beyond.

Also, for the first time, we get to see a complete list of 156 suppliers that deal with Apple. Here are some highlights from the 2012 report:

  • In 2011, we conducted 229 audits throughout our supply chain — an 80 percent increase over 2010 — including more than 100 first-time audits. We continue to expand our program to reach deeper into our supply base, and this year we added more detailed and specialized audits that focus on safety and the environment.
  • Apple-designed training programs have educated more than one million supply chain employees about local laws, their rights as workers, occupational health and safety, and Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct.
  • Our audits have always checked for compliance with environmental standards. In 2011, in addition to our standard audits, we launched a specialized auditing program to address environmental concerns about certain suppliers in China. Third-party environmental engineering experts worked with our team to conduct detailed audits at 14 facilities. We uncovered some violations and worked with our suppliers to correct the issues. We will expand our environmental auditing program in the coming year.
  • We have a zero-tolerance policy for underage labor, and we believe our system is the toughest in the electronics industry. In 2011, we broadened our age verification program and saw dramatic improvements in hiring practices by our suppliers. Cases of underage labor were down significantly, and our audits found no underage workers at our final assembly suppliers.
  • We offer continuing education opportunities at our suppliers’ facilities free of charge. More than 60,000 workers have enrolled in classes to study business and entrepreneurship, improve their computer skills, or learn English. And the curriculum continues to expand. We’ve also partnered with some local universities to offer courses that employees can apply toward an associate degree.

Apple maintains a policy of maximum 60 working hours per week with one day off for employees of its suppliers. However, their report uncovered more than 93 facilities where 50% of employees exceeded these limits. In response, Apple started tracking hours at these facilities themselves and forced companies to revise shifts and training.

Apple mentioned in the report it is the first technology company to be accepted into the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and plans to open up their suppliers to the their independent auditing team, and adhere to guidelines within two years like all new FLA affiliates:

“We found that Apple takes supplier responsibility seriously and we look forward to their participation in the Fair Labor Association,” said Auret van Heerden, FLA’s President and CEO. “We welcome Apple’s commitment to greater transparency and independent oversight, and we hope its participation will set a new standard for the electronics industry.”

Apple calls this “a level of transparency and independent oversight that is unmatched in our industry.” You can check out the full PDF report here.

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