Following a lengthy New York Times report published earlier this week, detailing the harsh reality behind the mistreatment of Chinese factory workers, Apple CEO Tim Cook has responded to his staff with an email that brands the report “patently false and offensive.”
Cook revealed he is “outraged” by the report, and reassured his team that “we’ve made a great deal of progress and improved conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers.”
The NYT’s report was based on over a dozen interviews with former Apple executives, in addition to “economists, manufacturing experts, international trade specialists, technology analysts, academic researchers, employees at Apple’s suppliers, competitors and corporate partners, and government officials.” All of whom reported that while the Cupertino company has worked to improve working conditions in Chinese factories, it could do more if it didn’t allow its secrecy and business goals to get in the way.
But Tim Cook believes the report is far from accurate, and in an email to his team, passed on to 9to5Mac, he branded it “offensive” to the company. The lengthy email begins:
As a company and as individuals, we are defined by our values. Unfortunately some people are questioning Apple’s values today, and I’d like to address this with you directly. We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It’s not who we are. For the many hundreds of you who are based at our suppliers’ manufacturing sites around the world, or spend long stretches working there away from your families, I know you are as outraged by this as I am. For the people who aren’t as close to the supply chain, you have a right to know the facts.
Cook goes on to reassure Apple staff that it is doing all it can to raise the bar for its partners within the supply chain, and that no one else in the industry is doing as much as Apple:
“Every year we inspect more factories, raising the bar for our partners and going deeper into the supply chain. As we reported earlier this month, we’ve made a great deal of progress and improved conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers. We know of no one in our industry doing as much as we are, in as many places, touching as many people.”
“We are focused on educating workers about their rights, so they are empowered to speak up when they see unsafe conditions or unfair treatment. As you know, more than a million people have been trained by our program.”
“We will continue to dig deeper, and we will undoubtedly find more issues. What we will not do — and never have done — is stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain. On this you have my word.
Cook concludes by pointing Apple staff to the Supplier Responsibility page of the company’s website, where its progress can be monitored. He also explains to workers that the job they do for Apple is significant, and that they are changing people’s lives.