Sep 12, 2019 in Business

Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct

Business code of conduct and ethics are becoming key aspect of the day-to-day’s life of organization. That is particularly so in ensuring that every segment of the corporation adheres to the set guidelines by governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as the companies themselves. Some of the standards’ organizations include Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), International Labor Organizations Standards (ILO), Social Accountability International (SAI), as well as Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI).  In view of that, Apple Inc. has not been left behind and has established supplier code of conduct that values the organizational believes of fair and just treatment of workers.  As such the suppliers to the company’s needs are required to uphold high degree of safety, dignity and respect for their employees. Again, the policies require that all players in the manufacturing process of the company practice environmentally friendly activities. In a nutshell, the code envisages labor and human rights, environment, health and safety, ethics as well as management commitment.

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Labor and Human Rights

Apple Inc. believes in employee dignity and right to just and ethical working environment. Suppliers to the company should therefore uphold the highest standards of human rights. The policy thus protects against discrimination, abuse and harassment, human trafficking and forced labor, as well as underage workers. Again, it provides for workers to have realistic working hours, right to association and free bargaining, and proper remuneration. Besides that, it also outlines the suppliers’ relations with student workers and other juvenile workers. 

On discrimination, Apple forbids bias based on disability, gender, nationality, marital status, religion, race, age, ethnicity, union membership, or sexual orientation. The code argues against illegal and unnecessary medical tests which are not legally required for prudent work place. Again, the results of such tests should not be used to prejudice against an individual. In regard to anti-harassment and abuse, suppliers are under obligation to ensure the vice does not occur on their premises. According to the code, the forms of harassment may include issuing of threats to workers, inhumane or harsh treatment, as well as verbal, physical and psychological abuse. Others are mental coercion and sexual harassment. Such tendencies would lead to termination of partnership agreement with Apple. 

On human trafficking and forced labor, Apple prohibits its suppliers from engaging people in their operations without their consent. As such, the corporation is against people trafficking as well as indentured, bonded, forced or prison labor, or any form of slavery. Suppliers are expected to use workers who willingly work for them and not exploit them. Further, to ensure that this condition is not violated, suppliers are obliged to ensure the third parties they contract practice no such abusive tendencies. Otherwise, they are liable for the vice and could cause termination of their contract with Apple. As has been the accepted tradition worldwide, Apple requires that employees be allowed to freely join worker movements of their choice and make any collective bargaining. Where representations of laborers in such groupings are absent, the supplier has the responsibility of ensuring existence of a mechanism that bridges worker management communication. 

Additionally, an employee working hours should not exceed 60 in a single week, overtime inclusive. That is besides allowing them to have a day off in every seven days, as well as a voluntary overwork program. On the salaries, workers have to at least make the minimum wages mandated by the law. Further, they shall as well offer leave periods, vocation time and observe legally acknowledged holidays. The compensation for overtime should be at the legally accepted premium rate. There shall also be communication pertaining to pay structure as well as periods, besides making timely and accurate wages.

On the student workers, supplier is required to maintain proper records, as well as have a close relation with educational partners. The student should be offered appropriate training and support for the period they serve. In regard to Juvenile workers, suppliers are at liberty to employ people older than applicable legal minimum age in a given country but below 18 years. However, caution ought to be practiced to avoid jeopardizing their safety, health, or morals as per the No. 38 of ILO Minimum Age Convention. Nonetheless, for the underage employment it is completely illegal.

Environment

Apple has devoted to ensuring protection of environment on its activities. The company demands from its suppliers to development, application and upholding of an environmentally conscious business practices. Therefore, the following should be observed. First, suppliers should have a systematic approach that identifies, manages, reduces, recycles as well as disposes hazardous substances. The Regulated Substance Specifications from Apple should be adhered to. Again, a process of managing non-hazardous waste as well as wastewater management should be well implemented. That should as well be applied to management of storm water, to prevent illegal releases and leaks from getting into storm drains.

Further, there ought to be enhanced air emissions management to assist in identification, management, reduction and responsible gas emissions. The contractor is required to conduct regular performance monitoring of the control systems. A similar approach ought to be used while approaching boundary noise. Furthermore, they are required to obtain as well as be compliant with the issued environmental permits. Moreover, they should always apply approaches that meant to lower or prevent pollution where possible.

Health and Safety

Employees’ well being, safety and health are of great importance to Apple. In the year 2014, the company had its Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Academy launch above 870 projects that were meant to enhance working environment. Again, an extensive mapping program was commenced to ensure strengthening of processes involving chemical management throughout the entire supply chain. Apple’s guidelines demands that suppliers make identification, evaluation, and management of occupational health as well as safety hazards by prioritizing processes of risk elimination, administrative controls and engineering controls. 

The potential emergency should be recognized early in advance and the supplying company should always prevent and be prepared to respond to emergencies. For those making their shipping in to the United States, compliance with Customs-Trade partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) is necessary. The providers of the materials ought to get cautious on incident management through proper recording, evaluation and investigations. There should be risks mitigating plans in place, and the ability of the firm to offer first aid attention. Other areas to be checked in an aim to improve the work environment relate to ergonomics and improved communication. Again, establishment of employee health and safety committees will provide an opportunity for laborers to prevent their grievances on such matters.

Ethics

For successful business, Apple seeks to uphold highest level of ethical standards. That is expected to trickle down to the company’s suppliers on matters relating to relationships, sourcing, operations and practices. The corporation advocates for business integrity with full disengagement in corruption, embezzlement, bribery or extortion. The suppliers must abide by the laws of their host countries as well as those of the states where they ship their supplies. Again, their information disclosure mechanism should make proper recording of data touching on their business operations, health, safety, and labor. 

Additionally, information on environment ought to get done without misrepresentation or falsification of any kind. In addition, the supply firms need to ensure that intellectual property rights get respected and customer information remain properly safeguarded. The contractors will as well be required to offer secured channels for employees to get their grievances aired without intimidation. Confidentiality of whistleblowers should always make them anonymous if they so wish and retaliation of any sort is prohibited. Further, the policies encourage the suppliers to promote economic as well as social development, and make meaningful changes to the lives of the communities where they do their operations. As such, engagement in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) should remain a vital consideration for Apple’s partners. 

Furthermore, due diligence should be exercised as per OECD guidelines, where minerals are extracted from conflict hit areas. Apple highly discourages its suppliers from coming into contact with individuals who perpetrate war crimes or violence. Monies coming from Apple Inc. should by no means end up in the hands of criminals who commit heinous crimes. Therefore, any suppliers who contract such parties risk losing their tender with Apple.

Management Commitment and Employee Empowerment

Apple largely believes in worker empowerment through offering chances to expand their educational opportunities. The corporation has a Supplier Employee Education and Development (SEED) program with free provision of courses supportive to the business. The program runs through an iPad, thus going beyond the traditional classroom setting. Moreover, it provides inventive learning tools according to the changes that are being experienced in the technology industry. The management ought to be committed in ensuring workers acquire skills required to proceed their work within the factories. 

Worker training allows easy implementation of policies that improve quality of supplier products. A sample case where such training has not been offered was in Taiwan based Catcher Technology Company. Besides not offering required training, work environment involved many risks as there are no proper exists in case of fire. Moreover, laborers complained of skin and eye irritation due to improper ventilation and protection. Again, they need to provide worker’s rights information to employees to make them conscious of their freedoms. Finally, management needs to as well be accountable and answerable. That means they conduct assessments and audits to establish crisis areas and resolve them.

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