In August 2018 Ethical Consumer sent Apple a questionnaire requesting details of its supply chain management. No response was received and the company's website was searched. Documents were found including the 2018 Supplier Responsibility Report, on the basis of which the company was rated as follows:
Supply chain policy (reasonable)
The company's Supplier Code of Conduct was dated 1 January 2018. The Code stated that it applied to "Apple suppliers and their subsidiaries, afliates, and subcontractors (each a “Supplier”) providing goods or services to Apple, or for use in or with Apple products."
It included adequate clauses on child labour, working hours, forced labour, freedom of association, and discrimination. It did not guarantee payment of a living wage. Apple was considered to have reasonable supply chain policy.
Stakeholder engagement (rudimentary)
Apple's Progress Report 2018 was viewed, which stated that the company was working with a multi-stakeholder initiative to improve its tin supply chain, however it did not appear that it was working with organisations on labour standards in its manufacturing. Apple mentionned anonymous complaint systems that encourage workers to report workplace violations and retaliations . Overall Apple received a rudimentary rating for stakeholder engagement.
Auditing and reporting (poor)
Apple stated that "in 2017, we conducted 756 assessments in 30 countries, covering 95 percent of our total spend". However, there was no disclosure of audit results at factory or supplier level - although there was discussion about overall audit findings. There was no clear schedule of audits, nor a statement it would audit its whole supply chain, nor mention of the costs of audits. The remediation strategy included a Corrective Action Plan. Because of the lack of detail given, Apple was considered to have a poor approach to auditing and reporting.
Difficult issues (reasonable)
A difficult issue within the electronics industry is child labour. Apple detailed how it required suppliers - if they were found to be using child labour - to commit to a remediation strategy of returning the child back to their home and supporting them. Only two cases were found in 2017.
Another difficult issue it was addressing was the use of third-party recruiters to secure contract workers. Apple required suppliers to reimburse fees back to the workers.
Apple was considered to be addressing some of the difficult issues within its supply chain therefore it was considered to have a reasonable approach to difficult issues.
Given that Apple was rated poor for auditing and reporting, rudimentary for stakeholder engagement and reasonable for supply chain policy and difficult issues, it received a middle rating for Supply Chain Management.