Bolaji, your satement about Apple "the company seeks to demonstrate it is taking seriously allegations of workers' rights violations and other illegal or socially unacceptable practices in its supply chain" is a welcomed resolve and a proof that change is welcomed by Apple.
This is good news and a bold approach to a nagging problem. I have read comments that monitoring of supply chain suppliers and contractors is huge and may be impossible. I am happy to see that Apple is putting on the "can do" spirit and actually putting its suppliers, contractors, and manufacturers on notice to be audited and frequently too.
Certainly this is one of the solutions the company is implementing in response its own audit of its supply chain to assure human rights, health, and safety of all workers by suppliers and contractors . I am hopeful that Apple's leadership will make others follow.
This is not any simple problem if you really want to solve. But if there is a standard body, (I suppose it is there) the OEM's should take their help in certifying the manufacturers that they are following the rules and regulations and have the certificates by the standard body. This organization should get the audit done every six months and should share the results with their customers (OEM's). This kind of system will probably reduce the issue like more work hors and under age labor practices.
As I have stated in prior posts, maybe there is a happy medium to be had. If costs rise in order to better working conditions then it is to the benefit of the labor force in China. Maybe costs don't have to rise to a level where outsourcing no longer makes sense. While no one wants to see costs rise, no one wants to see human right violations in the name of saving a $1. Maybe with some the audits and potential working condition improvement oversees, the western world can start to be more competitive and keep or bring back jobs.
If all the manufacturers experienced increased cost savings then a new leveled playing field is created. If pricing to consumers increase, well, that is a small price to pay for ensuring better working conditions and everyone's human rights.
While all the measures taken and the standards imposed by Apple may seem very noble and generous, the harsh reality is the fact that all of these involves either an increase in cost or a reduction in worker productivity. Ultimately, the cost of production goes up. This essentially kills the purpose of outsourcing the manufacturing to companies abroad. I think the situation is a paradox - companies can either go for cost-savings or for better employee treatment and work conditions. Achieving both of these almost seems impossible.
I think you make a key point Bolaji--by publishing these results, Apple holds itself accountable for the improvements. Apple did not have to go into the level of detail it did in outlining the abuses it found or the corrective actions it has yet to take. Even if the media wasn't watching Apple's every move, you can be sure competitors are. Any deviation from the plan will be flagged.
Management of supply chain always remains as a nightmare to me. any small change can create huge problems at the same time it can bring a vibrant change to an organization. I am still apprehensive on the thought of audit it will incur huge loss of time in the supply chain and also may need new resources to make this process functional. but definitely on the other side it will add lot of value to the company and the workers may be benefited will also increase the standards of the components in turn the product.
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.