In an effort to improve working conditions within its supply chain, Apple is turning to a community of academics, establishing an academic advisory board to study and recommend courses of action to the iPhone maker. To be more specific, Apple has tapped Brown University Professor and Watson Institute Professor Richard Locke to chain an all-volunteer group of professors. The group first convened six months ago according to The Watson Institute for International Studies.
The group is tasked with studying and making recommendations to Apple about current policies and practices, conducting and commissioning new research on Apple supply chain labor standards, and sharing existing research to help improve the standards. The members of the academic advisory board will themselves be responsible for doing the research that goes into their recommendations to the Cupertino California company. The research will be submitted for rigorous academic review and it will result in publicly available working papers, as well as published journal articles.
In addition to Locke, the members of the board include Mark Cullen of Stanford University, Eli Friedman of Cornell University, Mary Gallagher of University of Michigan, Margaret Levi of University of Washington, Dara O’Rourke of University of California Berkeley, Charles Sabel of Columbia University, and Annelee Saxenian of University of California Berkeley. Speaking on the appointment, Locke said that he hoped the advisory board’s work would result in changes to Apple’s supply chain so that its millions of workers “are paid living wages, work within the legal work hour regimes, [and] work in environments that are safe and where they can express their rights as citizens.”
Scrutiny of Apple’s supply chain grows at a rate that is correlated to the popularity of the products the company sells. Apple for years has published extensive reports on its supply chain, rolling out a “Supplier Code of Conduct” that lays out expectations on labor and human rights, health and safety, the environment, ethics, and management systems.
For those of you who didn’t know, Apple terminated its relationship with Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics when an audit found that the supplier employed underaged workers. Apple’s most recent Supplier Responsibility Report found that 99% of workers in its supply chain comply with a 60-hour work week limit. This figure was up slightly from the previous tally in September which found 97% of workers at 60 or fewer hours per week.
We’ll have to see if the effort helps the Cupertino California company improve the working conditions within its supply chain by being patient.
Source: Watson Institute for International Studies