Friday, March 2, 2012

Apple and Sustainability

I found an article from about a year ago about shareholders of Apple trying to propose a sustainability plan in their daily operations. One plan involved instituting a board of director’s sustainability committee and the other called for establishing a sustainability report on the company’s environmental policies. Unfortunately both of these were denied.

I found it interesting how they would deny other sustainability initiatives when environmental factors are important when people are forming an impression of a company. In the Environics Millennium Poll, it measured what people and companies thought about CSR factors. It was found that 19 percent of Canadians and 16 percent of Americans said that environmental factors are the most important when forming an impression of a company. In places like Great Britain it was 30 percent and Sweden at 25 percent. These numbers should not be ignored. It makes me wonder when these shareholders proposals were taking place whether that particular shareholder presented these numbers to the board of directors.

These were not the only significant statistics that they should have paid attention to as 42% of North American consumers punish companies for being socially irresponsible. In Canada, 26% of share owners have bought or sold shares because of a company’s social performance. Hopefully in the future it might affect the amount of shareholders who want to own shares in Apple as we learned from the Millennium Poll in North America, a company’s social practices alone affects shareholders decision to buy shares in a company.

Sustainability extends beyond the borders of Silicon Valley since they have partner companies like Foxcon that produce many of the parts of the ipod, ipad and iphone devices. If Apple were to adopt a sustainability mission, would their overseas operations cut down their emissions as well? Probably not.

I also found it a bit contradictory that they mentioned in the article that Apple is a world leader in worker’s rights because although, in their operations in the United States, they probably are, it is hard to ignore the high suicide rates in China at their supplier company, Foxcon. Employers are legally obligated to provide employees with a psychologically safe work environment but it clearly is not the case in the overseas operations.

- Andy Roy

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