For a famously perfectionist company, the labor standards at Apple’s Chinese factories leave much to be desired. And yet, despite months of bad press, Apple’s sales show no sign of flagging. When the media focus dies out, what forces can induce an extremely profitable company to improve its manufacturers’ labor practices? Today on Public Ethics Radio, S. Prakash Sethi discusses the corporate responsibilities of a market leader.
S. Prakash Sethi is a university distinguished professor at the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College in the City University of New York; the Forrest Mars, Sr., visiting professor of ethics, politics, and economics at Yale University; and the president of the International Center for Corporate Accountability. An article he wrote on Apple’s labor standards is available from the Carnegie Council’s website.
Sethi mentions the FLA, or Fair Labor Association, the monitoring group that has audited Chinese factories on Apple’s behalf. Their report into Foxconn, which was widely discussed in the media, is available on their website.
For readers interested in learning more about Sethi and his work with Mattel in particular, he was profiled in 2007 by Jonathan Dee in the New York Times Magazine.
In addition to its more recent coverage of Apple, the New York Times published its investigative reports into Apple’s supply chain earlier this year in a series titled “The iEconomy.” Charles
This American Life’s controverisal episodes on Apple are “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory” and “Retraction.” The former episode was, of course, retracted in the second, but it still makes for entertaining listening—and by most estimates Daisey’s broader picture of Apple is true, whether or not he witnessed it. The New York Times Reporter featured in “Retraction” is Charles Duhigg, who co-wrote the “iEconomy” reports.
The Daily Show jumped on the Apple bandwagon back in January; see the clip here.