Apple is unarguably one of the most valuable companies to date. When it comes to purchasing a new laptop or phone, Apple has become the brand of choice. As a company that reported revenue of $42.1 Billion dollars at the end of 2014, Apple seems to be doing everything right. When it comes to their ethical and socially responsible position Apple says, “ To make truly great products, we feel it’s crucial to build them in ways that are ethical and environmentally responsible”. However, with current reports Apples promise to prospective and loyal customers on their website is questionable. Business ethics is the foundation of a good business. A businesses success thrives on a socially responsible and ethical company. When the ethics of the business falls short, it begins to crack the structure of the business itself. The issue of Apple’s ethics comes in the mistreatment of the individuals who are responsible for creating the multi-billion dollar revenue producing products.
The highlight of Apples poor ethics is in Foxconn, the leading supplier of Apple products. The employees at Foxconn work about 70 hours per week and some of the employees haven’t even been paid. There are dormitories in the factory that house about 300 people who share one shower and one bathroom. The demanding and poor working conditions lead 18 employees to commit suicide by jumping out the window in 2010. In order to compensate for the deaths, the company gave the families about 100,00 yuan. Even though Apple isn’t legally responsible for the hectic conditions at Foxconn, Apple was aware of the conditions and chose to do nothing about it. Many people blame the fact that Apple set such poor order prices that Foxconn was unable to improve working conditions. Following the scandal at Foxconn conditions had improved with the help of Apple. However Apple stated, “Our suppliers must live up to the toughest standards in the industry if they want to keep doing business with Apple.” The true test of Apple ethics is how they decide to move forward after this scandal. Apple chose to sweep it under the rug, and the violations of ethics continued in 2011.
Apple decided to outsource to southern China from a change of Foxconn in order to cut costs. Apple hired about 500,000 employees and began to test the extent as to which they can work. Apple forced employees to sign anti-suicide contracts promising not to commit suicide. They also installed nets around the building in order to catch people if they jumped. The first example of the flaw in their ethics is the 98 hours Apple makes its employees work. The Chinese law states that each employee must not work more than 36 hours. Apple is forcing employees to work about three times the legal limit in order to meet product demands. Another way Apple has cut corners is by building dorms near the factory in order to eliminate employee downtime. The dorms also feature bars on the windows in order to prevent further people from jumping. Another example of the extreme work environment was when the first iPhone was released, and Steve Jobs decided to change the screen from plastic to glass. The employees were woken up at 3am in order to start production to meet an unreasonable deadline.
Given Apples billion dollar revenue, they can afford to be a leader in proper business ethics. Proper business ethics begins with the way employees are treated. Even though the scandals had little effect on Apple business sales, Apple should still feel responsible for improving the working conditions of suppliers. With proper business ethics, Apple can set the standard and provide a model for other companies to follow. It can begin by inspecting working conditions of the assembly line employees that are responsible for making their billion dollar revenue generating products. Apple can also include that in their contract with their suppliers in order to ensure proper working conditions for employees. By enforcing proper working conditions, it will cause Apple to pay a little extra to suppliers, however, they can afford it. Proper business ethics isn’t in what a company says but how a company acts. Apple can release as many statements as they want about the proper working conditions they like to believe their business to have. Business ethics of Apple will become positive once they implement their ideas and statements into practice in their company.