Materiality: Apple & CSR

As the most valuable company in the world, it is surprising to know that Apple has not published a CSR report. However, it did publish documents on business conduct and supplier responsibility. Its business conduct explains the company’s values and principles, and guides employees on how to manage business activities and interactions with stakeholders. Meanwhile, its document on supplier responsibility reports on how the company manages social responsibility throughout the supply chain and emphasizes its responsible practices. The company’s website also has pages on how the company addresses environmental issues where it states its carbon footprints and the efforts being carried out to decrease it. This section gives customers information on how Apple has improved the design of its products so as to enable these electronic items to function in a more energy-efficient way and also be easily recyclable. In addition, it informs customers on how to recycle old Apple products through the Apple recycling programme.

Despite the steps that the company has taken to address some issues that concern its stakeholders, the question is: Has Apple truly integrated CSR into its business model? I came upon this question as our class was analysing the CSR reports and materiality matrix of several companies in the ICT sector. As a user of Apple products, I am among many people who go about functioning in my daily life with the help of an iPhone and iPad, plus a majority of my fellow classmates come to class every day with a Macbook. Obviously people still purchase Apple products and I’m sure there are those of us who can’t imagine our lives without it now that we’ve developed a dependency on these items.

It seems that Apple is somewhat making efforts to address the current concerns of its stakeholders, which are appearing as hot topics in the news and media. But as far as integration goes, it has yet to prepare a complete and assured report on its initiatives, and how it intends to grow in a sustainable manner. At the moment, Apple has not been as transparent as it could be and for a big corporation like itself, there are responsible consumer expectations for it to invest more in efforts to report on the sustainability of its business. Apple may need to confess to the weaknesses it has with regard to the safe and ethical production of its high-selling products, and not just assure people that it will make efforts to do what is right.

While its products have changed our lives in ways we never imagined, there is a lack of trust in the company as detailed information on the sustainability of Apple’s business activities are only provided through its website and nothing more. With so many controversy surrounding its supply chain and consumer’s demands to know what Apple is doing to solve the problem, it would seem that the company’s refusal to publish a CSR/Sustainability report would lead to assumptions that the corporation has something to hide and that perhaps it has yet to integrate CSR practices and principles. Until Apple takes some serious steps to provide relevant information on its sustainable measures, and being more transparent, it will continue to risk its reputation of being perceived as another corporation that only cares about making profit at the expense of society and environment, regardless of the quality or innovative use that its products have to offer.

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