Saturday, 23 February 2013

Apple poisoned?

I‘m sure many of you are aware that Apple’s logo is actually a poisoned apple. Strange isn’t it. Well it’s actually a memorial to Alan Turing the intellectual computer heavy weight who reputedly poisoned himself by apple. Of course there’s a separate conspiracy theory which provides a more sinister version, more in keeping with Snow White’s stepmother administering the poison.

But what puzzles me is how Apple appear to have let the sweetness of their ubiquitous products numb my conscience – have I been temped and poisoned?

I would have prided myself as having a moral conscience in terms of my buying. I led one of the organisations I worked for to becoming an early adopter of a Fair Trade Procurement Policy. Over 15 years ago I attempted ethical supply chain mapping. In my personal life I tend to buy ethically and boycott the ‘badies’ - I haven't been to Starbucks for months. Yet, with Apple I seem to suffer from some sort of ethical blindness – why is that?

Some months ago I discussed the working conditions of those working for one of Apple’s iPhone5 strategic suppliers – they’d been asked to sign disclaimers that they wouldn’t commit suicide and there had been riots in the factory. A few weeks ago I referred to issues relating to a third party providing child labour – credit to Apple though as they appeared to have uncovered the problem themselves.  Today we learn of evidence that an iPad sub-contractor has been polluting a river, poisoning fish and leaving the water unfit for in crop cultivation. – allegedly this has been going on for two years! 

It would be difficult to look at that evidence and say Apple are managing an ethical supply chain. Yet, what surprises me is that even today I ‘considered’ switching to an iPhone. Strange isn’t it. Somehow Apple seemed to have worked an amazing trick on my own conscious.

Perhaps you recognise the same phenomena?   

I stand amazed that Apple just do not seem capable of applying their unequal creativity to procurement management.

As the mighty retail supermarket have reached their nemesis through the horse meat debacle I just wonder how long Apple's supply chain can continue to be poisoned before Apple customers have an allergic reaction. Perhaps Apple have achieved a bizarre status, being able to profess CSR while the news tells a different story and the consumer conscience turns a blind eye.

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