Apple's reaction to the New York Times exposé about brutal working conditions at its manufacturing partners' plants in China had a primary target in mind: Apple employees. In a lengthy e-mail delivered to all employees on Jan. 26, CEO Tim Cook criticized the article and highlighted the numerous efforts and initiatives the company is undertaking to improve the working environments of laborers overseas.
Cook described Apple’s efforts in ensuring better working environments for employees at manufacturing plants overseas. These include yearly audits and inspections of factories, as well as worker education and training programs.
Apple's decision to communicate only internally is a message in and of itself: The company wants it understood that it considers its employees to be its primary stakeholders.
“We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. 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,” said Cook in the e-mail, which was published by 9to5mac.com.
The e-mail also serves as an indirect, outward-facing statement. So when Cook says, “What we will not do—and never have done—is stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain. On this you have my word,” he is, in effect, announcing to both his employees and the world that Apple acknowledges problems in its supply chain and that it is constantly working to rectify them.
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