In the recent months in which Apple has come under heavy scrutiny for working conditions in the overseas factories it uses, specifically those of Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer Foxconn, the spotlight turned on the rest of the high tech industry over its supply chain working conditions. In light of the recent coverage of Apple, American high tech companies have an opportunity to take the lead when it comes to communicating the conditions of their own supply chain workers.
However, when asked to report on labor conditions by The New York Times, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Microsoft and others responded with "boilerplate public relations messages," and some didn't respond at all.
The response from Barnes & Noble, the maker of the Nook e-reader, was typical, according to the Times—"We don't comment on our supply chain vendors."
A recent Hill+Knowlton Strategies study revealed a significant deterioration of trust in business since 2010, as just 35% trust corporations to do what is right—down from 45% in September 2010. More than half of Americans (52%) feel they have more access to information about the business practices of corporations, but only 30% feel like it is easier to hold companies accountable for their actions.
Keeping these stats in mind, when a major player in an industry such as Apple comes under scrutiny for some of its practices, so too do other organizations within that industry. Keeping mum in regard to working conditions represents not only a missed opportunity to outdo a competitor, but a failure to show the public they take corporate social responsibility seriously.
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