Apple CEO Cook Hurt by Insinuation of Indifference, Doesn't Deny Problems
Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly emailed employees about conditions at factories in China. Apple will dig and "undoubtedly find more issues," but it won't turn a blind eye.Apple CEO Tim Cook is "deeply troubled" and "concerned" about issues within the
Apple supply chain and accidents that have harmed workers, according to an email he sent to employees that has been distributed on the Internet.
Cook reportedly wrote the Jan. 26 and published by 9to5Mac in response to last week's The New York Times article, which painted the iPhone and iPad as modern-day blood diamonds-items that consumers demand, regardless of the terrible toll they may take on those making them. The seven-page article included details of an explosion in an area where iPad cases were being polished. The blast immediately killed two workers, injured dozens and rendered the features of one worker "smeared by the blast, scrubbed by heat and violence until a mat of red and black had replaced his mouth and nose," wrote The Times.
Cook took offense to the suggestion that Apple wasn't doing all it could to improve the conditions of workers at factories contracted by Apple, though he didn't deny there are issues to deal with.
"Any suggestion that we don't care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It's not who we are," he said in the email.
An unnamed consultant for Business for Social Responsibility told The Times: "Companies like [Hewlett-Packard] and Intel and Nike push their suppliers. But Apple wants to keep an arm's length, and Foxconn is their most important manufacturer, so they refuse to push."
Cook, however, insisted that "no one in our industry" does as much as Apple to improve the conditions for its hundreds of thousands of workers. He continued:
At the same time, no one has been more up front about the challenges we face. We are attacking problems aggressively with the help of the world's foremost authorities on safety, the environment and fair labor. It would be easy to look for problems in fewer places and report prettier results, but those would not be the actions of a leader.
In a February 2011 Apple progress report, the company detailed meeting with Foxconn executives and hiring an independent team of suicide-prevention experts to speak with workers about their quality of life.
Apple will "continue to dig deeper and we will undoubtedly find more issues," he wrote. "What we will not do-and never have done-is stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain."