Apple Inc. is an American multinational company that designs and sells consumer electronics. The company was initially founded by Steve Jobs in 1976, where he started off with selling computers in his company and then moved towards other products like mobile phones, tablets, televisions, laptops and etc. Apple has gained customer loyalty and brand recognition due to its diversification strategy and fulfilling customers desires (Khan and Alam, 2015). Over the years, the enterprise has been one of the most highly profitable technology companies worldwide and ranked one of the top 4 firms for technology in the world. However, Apple Inc. brings higher responsibility towards its stakeholders as well. In some areas of Apple’s company, it is not following ethical practices within its organization and this may cause harm to the stakeholders involved within or out of the organization. Furthermore, Apple has admitted to employing school kids for up to 11 hours a day to make their ultra-expensive iPhone X (Richard, Nelson and Reid, 2020). In this paper, I will address Apple Inc.’s Child Labor and unethical practices taken towards its employees. This paper will as well address ways Apple could solve this problem and become more considerate towards children.
Apple accused of Child Labor practices
The Apple Company had admitted to the use or involvement of child labor practices (Lei and Watch, 2010). Therefore, they use Child Labor practices in order to produce, manufacture and sell their products. There are many children working in hazardous industries and working with dangerous equipment’s, risking accidents and injury (Basu and Van, 1998). It is an unethical and bad management practice to be overworking children with such burden, but as people are becoming more informed, there seems to be an increasing chorus of opinion seeking to ban child labor. Foxconn, one of Apple’s major suppliers tends to employ students under the age of 14 at the Yantai facilities in China. Foxconn came under fire by NGOs for neglecting to check the ID’s of the workers it employed, allowing young students below China’s legal working age of 16 to work at its factories (Myers and Fellow, 2014). More recently in 2016, Apple had uncovered countless cases of child labor being used by its suppliers. Some of which the workers began committing suicide at the Shenzen Assembly plants in China where Apple products were being made. These cases raised questions whether or not Apple was being humane towards its employees or stakeholders. Therefore, this causes a threat to Apple Inc.’s reputation and social responsibility it has towards its stakeholders.
The Importance of the issue
Child labor is an important issue Apple Inc. must be aware of and find a way to ban it from its factories. Working conditions are of utmost importance to companies and will greatly influence their reputation. Apple must realize the importance of being ethical and considerate towards its stakeholders. The company has a corporate social responsibility towards its stakeholders yet there are still child labor cases discovered by its major suppliers. However, despite these allegations of labor right abuses by its suppliers, Apple is trying to be proactive in addressing these working conditions within the factories that produce their products (Myers and Fellow, 2014). Apple Company already has a supplier code of conduct established years ago, but it had been violated by many of its suppliers and no preventive measures had been taken by Apple. The magnitude of the tragedy of child abuse has not been captured by many companies, amongst them Apple. In order to protect and not harm its stakeholders, Apple should improve its Corporate Social Responsibility and address the child labor issues across all its suppliers’ factories. Apple Inc.’s owner and managers should stress the importance and impact this problem may cause to the company in the near future.
Stakeholders affected by Apple’s bad management practices
Many stakeholders are involved and affected by Apple Inc.’s bad management practices and unethical actions. The stakeholders of Apple’s Company include children, employees, shareholders, customers, government, NGO’s, suppliers and the media. Therefore, all these stakeholders are being affected by Apples bad management practices in one way or another. In many situations, companies should think globally before acting locally (Weiss, 2008). Apple’s stakeholders even signed a petition for Apple to stop using child labor, as it is an unethical practice. The stakeholders affected are mostly children being abused and overworked at a very young age. These children are below the age of 14 and work in bad working environments. They are at risk of injuries or health issues. On the other hand, customers may be affected since they are using products made by young children who can make mistakes during the production of these products. Employees also get affected by the practices of Apple and may be overworked too. Basically, child labor is a serious issue that can affect multiple stakeholders of the company.
There are many ways Apple could ban or stop child labor within their factories. Despite of being literature rich, Apple’s real time implements of principles are very poor (Khan and Alam, 2015). They need to go over their corporate social responsibility guidelines and make sure there are rules and ethical guidelines against Child Labor practices. More recently, after Apple admitted to the cases of child labor abuses their suppliers had, Apple Company promised to eliminate child labor from its supply chain immediately and completely. It ensured that it would enforce its supplier code of conduct, which prohibits people under the legal age to work (Myers and Fellow, 2014). Apple has implemented so many initiatives to eliminate child labor and prevent this issue from increasing. Audit Reports for the Apple Company to show improved conditions; however, labor issues continue to be a major problem within Apple’s supply chain. Apple needs to understand the importance of their bad management practices and how it can negatively impact their stakeholders. Apple should be accountable for the actions of their management and employees and, therefore, it should ensure the safety of all its stakeholders. Child labor is a real problem Apple should work on eliminating and banning it by revising its ethical guidelines and improving its management practices.
Information through management and other sources
In management, we learn that it is very important to have a sustainable business, one where there’s a commitment to protect the rights of all stakeholders and operate in ways that meet consumer needs. Sustainable business considers a wide range of stakeholder interests, including environment and society (Bocken, Short, Rana and Evans, 2014). It is important in driving innovation and long-term success for the Apple Company. Apple should learn how to be sustainable and protect all its stakeholders rather than allowing child labor practices in its supply chain. Before Apple’s company managers take decisions in their business, they should always check their ethical reasoning. Before managers take a decision, they should make sure their decision respects the rights of everyone, is consistent with the canons of justice, and is consistent with their responsibility to care and satisfies all stakeholders. Moreover, management courses are very important as they teach present and future managers how to create a sustainable business and achieve a long-term success. Apple Company should have followed these ethical guidelines and have been more sustainable.
Other courses like Business Ethics could help tackle the problem Apple is facing. Business Ethics talks about the appropriate business policies and practices a company must have. It can help us, and managers of companies understand how to conduct a business and ethically operate it. Business Ethics is an important course as it teaches us ethical guidelines a business must have and allows us to practice how to make the right decisions. Another important course that could be helpful in this situation is Human resource management course. This course enables you to understand which employees to hire and how to deal with employees of a company. Human resource management is the strategic approach to the effective management of people in an organization that may help gain a competitive advantage (Kianto, Sáenz and Aramburu, 2017). Human resources within an organization can help deal with issues related to employees and people such as hiring and recruiting the right ones for the job. Business Ethics and Human Resource Management are both important courses that can help businesses tackle issue e.g. Apple and child labor practices.
According to Apple, 350 of their employees have been trained on process safety topics and deployed in suppliers’ factories since 2011 to improve workplace safety conditions (Myers and Fellow, 2014). They’ve been training employees since 2011 to ensure the safety of their workers and environment conditions. They’ve also made attempts to remove excessive overtime at their suppliers’ factories by tracking the number of hours employees are working. As well as, eliminate child labor at suppliers’ factories and the entire consumer electronics industry. These are all ways Apple had tried to successfully implement safe working conditions and eliminate child labor practices. So now, Apple managers should implement more programs and ways to make sure child labor practices aren’t taking place. Their employees should also be treated fairly and not overworked. The government should implement policies against child labor that follow harsh consequences for companies who decide not to follow these policies. The government is key to helping child labor practices decline by implementing rules and policies against it. The managers and the elder employees of Apple should pursue a zero-tolerance policy for child labor and ensure that the victims of child labor return to school and be compensated for damages or lost time. Apple managers should review their suppliers code of conduct and make sure there is a clear policy against these practices stated clearly. All stakeholders involved should work together to ban child labor practices and report any case they witness in order to ensure limited number of cases.
An opportunity: An Initiative
Apple is a very well known technological company that took personal electronics to an entire new level, surpassing even Sony, which is considered an original pioneer of consumer electronics (O’Grady, 2009). Therefore, Apple can still save its image and reputation as high as it is before it’s too late. Apple can also be more considerate and thoughtful towards its stakeholders. The company should implement an initiative or a campaign against child labor practices. It should create an event to promote awareness for people to be alert of the initiative Apple is doing. In this way, Apple can gain awareness on Child Labor matters and spread the message to ban Child Labor practices. Apple’s company will then be able to restore its image in the market as well as save the children from the abuse they’ve been through. If Apple succeeds with this initiative, they would be banning child labor from their factories and their supply chain. Furthermore, the company has the resources and capability to drive this initiative against child labor practices and help other businesses and companies to ban it as well.
In conclusion, child labor practices should be banned across countries around the world, as it is a global concern (Basu and Tzannatos, 2003). Apple’s Company has child labor in its supply chain; however, more recently they are working on permanently banning these inhumane practices from their businesses. It is important for managers to understand how to conduct and implement sustainable business to protect their stakeholders. They should be ethical and reasonable while performing business or management practices in order to be fulfilling their duties towards their stakeholders. Moreover, Apple can drive an initiative or create a campaign against child labor to spread awareness and emphasize the importance of child labor abuses and banning it. In this way, it can grow in the market and achieve long-term success in the near future. Apple Inc. Company has the opportunity to innovate and create more products by achieving long-term success through sustainability.