While Apple Is Criticized for Foxconn, Other Companies Are Silent
Apple’s rivals are quick to say how much better, faster, cheaper or more popular their smartphones, computers and tablets are.
Yet when it comes to working conditions in the Chinese factories that build these competing products, Apple’s electronics rivals go silent.
In recent months Apple has come under heavy scrutiny for working conditions in the overseas factories it uses, specifically those of Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer.
Amid criticism that it hadn’t been vigilant enough, Apple announced it would employ the Fair Labor Association, an independent auditor, to review the manufacturing plants it uses and publicly identify factories where worker abuses take place.
Now, Apple is no paragon of open communication. Executives don’t speak to the public about labor practices in China. But the company has been publishing reports of the practices of its vendors since 2006. Apple has also shared the names of the 156 suppliers it uses to build its devices. And it has publicly pledged to go “deeper into the supply chain” in its own published audits.
Over the past week I have asked Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Microsoft, Dell, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Lenovo about their reports on labor conditions. Many, if not all, of these electronics makers also use Foxconn.
Most responded with a boilerplate public relations message. Some didn’t even respond. The answer from Barnes & Noble, the maker of the Nook e-reader, was typical. Mary Ellen Keating, a senior vice president, said only, “We don’t comment on our supply chain vendors.” Ms. Keating wouldn’t say why Barnes & Noble does not discuss its manufacturing.
Lenovo e-mailed an off-topic report on sustainability.
Samsung, which sells far more cellphones than Apples does, gave no response.
Although some technology companies share some information about their audits, none go into detail about the violations they find or what they are doing to fix problems.
The elephant in the room is very large and obvious, but all I hear people complaining about is Apple’s sweatshop-based products while they smugly pocket their other-brand device that was made in the same, if not worse, conditions. Hypocrites, one and all.