The increasing press on the terrible labor standards at the Chinese Foxconn factories, where tech companies such as Apple, Dell, HP, Nokia and Sony source from, highlights the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility on a global scale.
Global social responsibility is particularly important to an image-driven brand like Apple, which has been singled out more than other tech companies, because its consumers tend to be young and educated people who are often mindful of social and environmental issues. This image does not include suicides or underage workers in Chinese supplier factories. No one wants their beloved iPhone to become synonymous with unethical labor standards.
Since Apple is so committed to and dependent on its clean image, we are probably not going to see another Nike situation like in the 90s where consumers were called to boycott. Nevertheless these examples show that being seen as socially irresponsible simply won’t be permitted by consumers or stakeholders. Companies have to ensure fair labor standards in the assembly of their products – not just in the USA but around the world. If Apple learns its lesson soon enough, it may even seize the opportunity to lead growth in social compliance in the tech industry.