Over the past several years, reports about alleged mistreatment of contract workers building Apple devices at plants throughout Asia have been rampant. Apple has not taken these reports lightly, and today the company issued a new report on supplier responsibility that outlines the efforts that have been made to make life better for the people who make our shiny toys.
According to the report (link to PDF), Apple conducted 127 workplace audits in 2010 -- 97 at locations that had not been previously visited, and 30 repeat audits. In the report, Apple refers to the corporate Supplier Code of Conduct, a comprehensive set of standards which suppliers must meet in order to continue doing work with Apple. The Code of Conduct covers labor and human rights, health and safety, the environment, ethics and management commitment.
Apple lists some of the dismal scores achieved by suppliers, showing a lot of transparency to the company's stockholders and the public. To bring up audit scores, the company has trained over 300,000 workers on occupational health and safety, worker rights and local labor laws in the past two years, and has trained more than 6,000 supervisor and managers on their responsibilities to workers.
The report also covers Apple's attempts to get away from use of conflict minerals in production, as well as a detailed section on how Apple COO (and acting CEO) Tim Cook and a group of executives met with Foxconn CEO Terry Gou and his staff in June of 2010 to discuss the string of worker suicides.
While the report shows that Apple suppliers still have a long way to go before creating a "worker's paradise," the company is taking positive steps to improve the situation for hundreds of thousands of workers. It's an eye-opening report worth reading for anyone who buys and uses Apple products.