Monday, February 13, 2012



1. Timing can tell you a lot. When Apple previously announced they would work with the FLA, they did it on the Friday after the THIS AMERICAN LIFE piece had run and caused people to begin asking them difficult questions. They did that announcement on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend, a traditional place to bury a disclosure you aren't happy to be making.

Their next statement was an email from Tim Cook after the New York Times piece ran, corroborating and deepening the allegations of abuse against them. That email was internal, but Apple knows they are always leaked—and they chose to express fury and outrage at the accusation that they didn't care, while not contesting any of the points made in the NYT story.

This press release was sent out in prime time on a Monday. This indicates that Apple has had a change of tactics—they have begun to hear the outrage of millions of Apple users around the world, and they are starting to understand the danger they are in. They have begun to understand that their choices may have caused irreparable harm to their brand.

2. Make no mistake—Apple is changing strategies, and this effort is winning. Though Apple had previously joined the FLA, they had agreed only to audits of 5% of their supply chain, and those audits would be kept secret.

Now the FLA will be auditing 90% of Apple's supply chain over the next few months, and they are pledging to full, transparent disclosures. We will have to see how those reports turn out, but this is a welcome change from their position that they were simply furious—they are instead starting the process of stepping up, and this is a testament to so many who have made their voices heard.

3. It's vital to remember that the entire electronics industry is being put on notice—horrifying conditions are everywhere in the supply chains of all our major electronics brands, and this is the moment to exert that pressure. Samsung, Dell, Amazon, Acer, Lenovo, Motorola, Sony...the list is very, very long. Reforming how Foxconn works will help millions, but it is going to take a real coalition to change this industry.

4. That's why I'm calling on electronics manufacturers to work together. Tell them to pledge 1% of their income for labor standards and they could utterly transform the face of the industry. Apple is the natural leader for this effort—Apple makes 60% profit on its devices, and has $100 billion dollars sitting in the bank—more money than the federal government.

I'm calling on Apple to lead the way in this effort. Apple has transformed the way we see the world again and again, by shifting the metaphor from the popularization of the personal computer, to pioneering the graphical user interface in our homes, to putting touch computing in everyone's hands.

This is the moment when they must become a real leader and show the way for the electronics industry. Apple has always been one of the most innovative companies in the world. This is the moment when they must begin to show that they can also be the most humane.