Apple has released its latest Supplier Responsibility report, which shows an 80% drop in underage labour and signs of a new and long-awaited transparency. The company also published a nearly comprehensive list of suppliers for the first time, and announced its membership of the Fair Labor Association to provide some measure of third-party oversight. But this relative openness still leaves much about Apple’s supply chain obscured.
The Wall Street Journal spoke about the report with new CEO Tim Cook, who as SVP for Worldwide Operations and then as COO oversaw the closure of Apple’s own factories and the assembly of its current supply chain over the past 14 years.
In one of his first interviews as Apple Chief Executive, Tim Cook said the Cupertino, Calif., company has long aimed to be more transparent and believes the steps it is taking—including nearly doubling the number of supplier audits it does—are “raising the bar” for the industry.
“I have spent a lot of time in factories over my lifetime and we are clearly leading in this area,” said Mr. Cook, previously Apple’s chief operating officer who oversaw its supply chain. “It is like innovating in products. You can focus on things that are barriers or you can focus on scaling the wall or redefining the problem.”
Apple’s audits covered all of its final assembly manufacturers and included 14 specialised environmental audits in China. From Apple’s own list of highlights:
• 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 ….
• Our audits have always checked for
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