Episode 18. Prakash Sethi on Apple’s Labor Standards

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.

Click here to download the episode (32:32, 23.5 mb, MP3), or click on the embedded media player below. You can also download the transcript.


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.


Filed under Episodes

4 Responses to Episode 18. Prakash Sethi on Apple’s Labor Standards

  1. Michael

    At 2min 12sec Matt Peterson’s voice joins the discussion. Happens on the embedded player also. I’ll read the transcript; but thought you’d like to know.

  2. Gonçalo Marques

    I’m a frequent listener of your podcast. This time the mp3 for download is not ok, from around 2:15.
    Please provide a new mp3. And keep up the good work!

    • Matt

      Sorry about that! I’ve reposted the corrected episode so it’ll get pushed out to everyone. Thanks for the heads up.

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