Apple released its 12th Annual Supplier Responsibility Progress Report this week which details how the company is progressing in improving working conditions at supplier factories and waste management. Since 2007, nearly 15 million supplier employees have been trained on their rights, including 3 million just a year ago. Apple represents a high profile example of what is a growing trend and one in which companies are taking a more hands-on approach with their suppliers.
Apple's efforts to create a greener supply chain resulted in significant progress in 2017. In two years, 100% of its final assembly locations in China had attained zero waste certifications, the report said. More of Apple's products were made using renewable energy, while also reducing overall energy usage and carbon emissions. Since 2015, 625,00 metric tons of waste have been diverted from landfills.
Nevertheless, Apple's evaluation of how bad some of its business partners are treating employees and failing to abide by mandated standards flies in the face of CEO Tim Cook's claim that he wants the company to be socially responsible. "We're going further with health education programs and new opportunities for advancement at our suppliers", said Jeff Williams, Apple's COO. The programme provides vital information and access to services that women need to maintain their health, including critical topics such as self-examination for early cancer detection, nutrition, personal care, and maternal health. Our goal is to reach 1 million women by 2020. The Factory Line Leader Program bridges the gap between skills and employment by providing practical vocational skills and guaranteed internships with an Apple supplier, as well as long-term, full-time employment opportunities. The revelations came four years after more than a dozen emloyees committed suicide at plants linked to component-maker Foxconn, an Apple supplier. In 2017, we evaluated 756 supplier sites in 30 countries. In 2016, that proportion was three percent and, in 2014, it was 14%.
Increasingly companies are looking to better manage risk associated with their supply chains, especially for those with a brand to protect.
Apple conducted 756 assessments in 30 countries, with the number of first time assessments rose by 26 per cent, as the company expanded its supplier roster. Unfortunately, in 2017, Apple saw the number of major violations at its suppliers double over the year prior. Collectively, workers in the Philippines gave up over $1 million in order to maintain their jobs at a contractor facility.
On 7 March, Apple also issued its so-called conflict minerals report, which is required by United States securities regulators. The report lists suppliers of sensitive metals such as tin and gold. The company said 100 percent of its partners participated in the audit and that it dropped 10 partners from its supply chain for failure to cooperate.