Friday, August 25, 2006

Apple hiring a business ethicist

This Wired article reports that Apple has posted a job listing for a CSR (Corporate Social Resonsibility) Manager in the wake of allegations that their iPod factories in China are sweatshops. According to Maureen Wilson, in Apple Community Affairs "Apple's current Community Affairs program focuses on employee volunteerisim. Throughout the year, Apple employees share their time and talents with local communities and schools."

According to a a survey commissioned by the National Consumers League, the survey found that "76% of American consumers agree that to be socially responsible, companies should place employee salary and wage increases above making charitable contributions" and "similarly, the survey found that 76 percent believe that a company’s treatment of its employees plays a big role in consumer purchasing decisions." Sweatshops prove to be a constant "hot button" issue with consumers and it really sullies the Apple brand.

Unlike most Fortune 500 companies, there is no community affairs or CSR link that I can find at the Apple site. Apple's brand is heavily favoured by the psychographic set that counts CSR and social justice as very important personal values. It's surprising that Apple has taken so long to appoint a CSR manager and that they still don't seem to embrace community initiatives and charitable giving as a natural extension of their brand.

I've heard it said by some of my Apple alums that are still with the Company that Steve considers the products Apple and its educational discount sufficient contributions to society but I hope that's not true.

I'd have to guess that Gore (an Apple Director) would be pressing this issue, no?

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