Oct 11, 2020 in Business

Apple corporate social responsibility report

General Introduction

Apple is a corporation in the information technology industry, the most modern industry in the corporate world that has created several social and environmental challenges in the society. In this industry, the major environmental issues include carbon emissions, which are mostly released in the process of manufacturing electronic items. The problem of disposal of used and obsolete electronics is also an important environmental factor that affects how the enterprises in this industry operate (Allen & Peloza 2015, p. 639). The industry also faces social challenges, which range from the nature of employment to helping the society. There are cases of child labour, long working hours, health hazards in the workplace, and student manipulation in this industry due to the high level of manpower required. The challenge that the organisations within the industry face when they are willing to become philanthropic also affect the firms social operations (Gorg, Hanley & Seric 2015).

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Most companies in the IT industry operating internationally, such as Apple, have taken several corporate social responsibility (CSR) steps to ensure that they have minimised the impact of their business. What concerns such environmental challenges as carbon emissions, most organizations have joined the Carbon Disclosure Project, which is a non-profit institution that discloses the companies environmental information (Depoers, Jeanjean & Jerome 2014, p. 2). Other factors that have shaped CSR in the industry include citizenship motive, philanthropy, workplace ethics and employment morality (Gorg, Hanley, Hoffmann & Seric 2016). The CSR reporting in this sector is regarded as quite important due to the advanced effects that this industry can cause to both the society and the environment. In the contemporary world, IT items are in high demand; thus, any company in this industry must produce its offerings with due care to ensure no harm to the society. Thus, this report will present the analysis and reflections on the consistency and credibility of the CSR report of the Apple Company.

Role of CSR in the Apple Companys Operations

Apples Reporting on Materiality and Its Relevance

Apple usually prepares two critical reports every year in which the firm states its progress, targets and material impacts of its operations concerning CSR. One report is referred to as Environmental Responsibility Report, and it addresses the current environmental issues that the company faces. Concerning material impact and progress, the company discloses its level of carbon emissions and other disposals as well as the use of renewable energy, recycling, water conservation, and forest maintenance among other environmental factors (Apple Company 2015b). The company also has an annual Supplier Responsibility Progress Report that addresses the social problems the company is facing. Among the disclosures included in this report there is the companys accountability, workers empowerment, labour and human right, and health and safety of the workers and users of Apple products (Apple Company 2015a). These reports meet the required standard and follow the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. The above reports help evaluate Apples commitment to CSR, investors and other stakeholders of the industry.

The Contribution of CSR to Changing Apples Core Activities

The CSR has contributed a lot to changing the way in which the Apple Company operates, produces and supplies its products. The company has changed the materials used in manufacturing its electronics in order to reduce the amount of toxic emissions into the environment. In the past, most of Apples product had toxic chemicals, such as brominated flame retardants, phthalates, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), but today the products are almost free of these toxins (Chan 2014, p. 18). The company has also produced modern electronics, such as the MacBook and Mac, which are more energy-efficient. The decision to create these new items has been motivated by the CSR strategy to save and conserve energy. Lastly, Apple conducts annual audit for its suppliers to ensure that the firm adheres to its code of conduct.

CSR as a Method of Correction of Malpractice

The corporate social responsibility report is used by Apple as a method of collecting dangerous practices. During the 2000s, Apple was among the most notorious companies concerning social issues and environmental destruction. Most of the ranking during this period placed Apple among the top ten toxic multinationals in the IT industry, scoring as low as four points in a range of ten on toxic reduction (Chan 2014, p. 18). The company has also had a bad reputation for harsh employment conditions, including long working hours, unsafe workplace, and poor payment (Tian & Slocum 2016, p. 15). Other issues include underage employment and student manipulations by companys supplies. However, within the last few years, the situation has improved drastically, which serves an indication that the CSR report of this company is meant to enforce positive changes in the organization.

CSR: New Ways of Engaging with People/ Employees/ Consumers

The CSR has offered different ways of engaging people, employees, and customers in the Apple Company. First, the workers have received much attention from the firms management, which has amplified their relationship. In the 2015 CSR report, the firm launched Apple Supplier EHS Academy, which helped maintain health and safety of workers. Additionally, Apple also has the toughest supplier code of conduct, which ensures that employees are not manipulated. Lastly, Apple has developed a free employee education program (Apple Company 2015a). All these platforms are new ways in which the company engages with its employees. The Global Volunteer Program where Apples employees volunteer in the local community affairs is the main way in which CSR has created engagement within the business society (Lock 2015, p. 10). What is more, the firm engages customers by responding to complaints concerning Apples products.

Apples Stakeholder Input through Challenge

Apple responds to the CSR in connection to stakeholders input through the challenge. Over years, Apple has increased its CSR across the world as a result of exposure of some of its poor practise. One place where Apple works has been challenged by stakeholders to change is China. In the recent past, several reports have been produced showing Apples suppliers, such as the Foxconn Factory, maximizing profit with no concern for employees by exploiting employees to work up to 72 hours a week and employing underage workers (Chan 2014, p. 13). The report was produced by Students and Scholars against Corporate Misbehaviour Group, and it challenged Apple to change. This step was taken by Apple in 2015 as terms and conditions were tightened.

Apples Position in Addressing Future Issues

The future of Apple is aligned with the current issues that the society is facing as well as the future expectations of challenges. The company is engaging in energy conservation by producing efficient electronics, such as the Mini Mac, with an aim to save future energy. Apple has also launched programs to conserve and recycle water in Dongguan, China (Apple Company 2015b, p. 2). Other steps include the reduction of carbon gas emission aimed to preserve the environment. The company also uses the smallest amounts of finite resources and also encourages the recycling of old electronics, which now stands at 95% success rate (Apple Company 2015b, p. 17). Lastly, the company acknowledges that forest gives them much; hence, they give back through conservation.

Contribution of Disclosure to the Companys Perception in Society

The perception of Apple has not improved adequately in the society despite the continuous and consistent disclosure. This aim has failed as there are a lot of social and ethical issues that the company is still facing. The firm has not yet joined the Carbon Disclosure Project in disclosing materiality on carbon gas emission. The workers of the enterprise also face misconduct and manipulation, mostly in the Far East countries (Patel 2012). The current reputation of Apple is based on the quality of products, not CSR disclosure.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the above discussion has provided an analysis of the consistency and credibility of the CSR reporting of Apple. The company issues two special reports each year, one on environmental problems, and the other one on social issues. The CSR has been evaluated as a tool for change, as it has shifted Apple away from producing electronics with toxic substances. This report has also concluded that Apple has used CSR as a method of shifting from its past irresponsible ways of operation to the modern and modified means. The company has also used the CSR to enhance the engagement of its employees and customers by offering better terms and developing voluntary community work programs. However, it has been stated that Apple accepts input concerning CSR from shareholder as a challenge. Regardless, its CSR indicates that the company is working to ensure a better future for the society. Concerning media, the perception of Apples CSR has not improved, as its reputation has been tainted by incidents of their suppliers breaking the companys code of conduct without suffering any consequences (Chun 2011, p. 2). The CSR within the company has less impact on the media and policy observer in the current state f affairs, but continued progress will ensure that its CSR policy improves the companys reputation in the future.

Recommendations

Based on the research conducted on Apples CSR reporting, it has been established that the company has to intensify its efforts in ensuring that it wins social acknowledgement. The research has provided a new look on how the social responsibilities of corporates are evaluated in the society. It should enable firm such as Apple to differentiate CSR reporting as a way of creating the new market or as a continuous way of change. It should also provide a new understanding of how the organisation can use CSR as either a tool for business or as a tool for future changes.

However, based on the new understanding of corporate responsibility and strategic management, the company also has a lot to achieve to improve its reputation across the world. The companies, which have been accused of not giving back to the society, should develop the policy that will ensure their growth to the top philanthropic corporates in the world. Apple also needs to go beyond just its code of conduct and auditing in caring for all its workers and offer better means of management (Russell, Russell & Honea 2016). Lastly, the company should also join the Carbon Disclosure Project, as it is the only worldwide IT multinational that has refused to join this organisation.

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