Apple COO Jeff Williams talks child labor, improving healthcare

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The man described by Fortune as
Jeff Williams wants to save the world.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

With innovations like HealthKit and ResearchKit, Apple has been making big strides into healthcare in the past couple of years. In a new interview with Conversations with Health Care, Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams talks about Apple’s belief in the “democratization” of medicine, among other topics.

In amongst discussion about the way that iPhones are being used for tasks like helping detect autism, Williams also talks about Apple’s approach to helping get rid of child labor, which has been consistently viewed as a problem for the company’s suppliers in places like China.

“No company wants to talk about child labor,” Williams says. “They don’t want to be associated with that. We shine a light on it. We go out and search for cases where an underage worker is found in a factory somewhere and then we take drastic actions with the supplier [and] the upstream labor groups to try to make a change. Then we report it every year.”

This isn’t the first time Williams has discussed working conditions at Apple factories. After the BBC’s 2014 critical documentary Apple’s Broken Promises, which focused on Apple’s Asian supply chain, Williams said that no other company is doing, “as much as Apple does to ensure fair and safe working conditions.”

Many people theorize that Jeff Williams is set to be Tim Cook’s successor as Apple CEO when he eventually makes the decision to step down from running the company. Recently Williams (whose operations wizardry has led to him being referred to as “Tim Cook’s Tim Cook“) was promoted to the role of Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, with Cook describing him as, “hands-down the best operations executive I’ve ever worked with.”

If you’re interested in hearing a (relatively) rare interview with a man many consider to be one of Apple’s unsung heroes — or getting a glimpse at how the company hopes its products will continue to revolutionize medicine — the entire Conversations with Health Care show is well worth a listen.