Apple 2020 Supplier Responsibility study focuses on challenges of coronavirus in the workplace

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Apple's 2020 Supplier Responsibility progress report focuses on protecting its supply chain partners in a new world of COVID-19.
Photo: Apple

Apple released its 2020 Supplier Responsibility progress report Thursday detailing what steps it is taking to increase safety and protect supply chain workers worldwide in the shadow of the ever-challenging coronavirus outbreak.

Written by Sabih Khan, Apple’s senior vice president of operations, a letter accompanying the report in PDF details changes that Apple has made to protect its supply chain partners, such as strict adherence to social distancing, limiting density, and health screenings.

In the report, Khan comments on the efforts to adapt to the coronavirus worldwide:

We put people first in everything we do— and require everyone we work with to do the same — because we want to uphold the highest standards. … This pandemic has left no country untouched, and we want to thank all our suppliers around the world for their commitment, flexibility and care for their teams as we navigate COVID-19’s complex and rapidly evolving impacts. … While COVID-19 has been an unprecedented challenge, we’ve also drawn hope and inspiration from humanity’s renewed focus on the health of our colleagues, friends, and neighbors. That consciousness — of our health and the health of others — is something we can always carry with us. …

Khan said Apple had been working with suppliers since January when COVID-19 first began to spread in earnest “to develop and execute a plan that puts the health of people first.” He thanked thousands of Apple employees who had worked “tirelessly to execute that plan in partnership with our suppliers around the world.”

Measures taken

A few of the measures taken to protect workers include:

  • Screening for health issues.
  • Limiting the number of people in certain areas and enforcement of strict social distancing
  • Requiring the use of personal protective equipment during work and in common areas
  • Implementing enhanced deep cleaning protocols
  • Flexible work hours and staggered work shifts
  • Providing masks and sanitizers to employees

Some additional highlights from the report:

  • 52,000 workers were interviewed about the workplace experience.
  • $1.3 million in recruitment fees were repaid to employees last year.
  • A 13% increase in high-performing supplier facilities year over year.
  • A 53% increase year over year in supplier sites committed to achieving zero waste.
  • 30.5 billion gallons of freshwater worldwide have been conserved by suppliers to date.
  • A 100 percent participation in third-party audits across tin, tantalum, tungsten, gold, and cobalt smelters and refiners.
  • Over 154,700 suppliers used SEEDS of Learning opportunities in 2019. The program is an evidence-based professional development program that prepares parents to help children develop social, emotional, language and literacy skills they need to be ready for kindergarten.