Apple’s Ethical Watershed?
A window of opportunity and an open letter to CEO Tim Cook.
Is it me or is the current focus on Apple’s supply chain a different tune than we’ve heard before?
For years now many from responsible business community have rumbled in frustration at Apple’s lack of commitment and often blatant avoidance of sustainability issues. Most of these professionals have ironically also either converted to Apple Macbooks / iPhones / iPad or continued their use throughout the regular ethical issues arising. I go to a few industry conferences and they’re often more like a Halloween orchard with the amount of glowing Apple logos on show.
Let’s be honest Apple products look damn good, mostly do the job you’d expect and you can’t argue with the almost religion-like power of the brand they’ve created under the stewardship of the recently departed Steve Jobs. For full disclosure I was once an Apple fan, during my days producing copious amounts writing, media materials and marketing documents at Everton FC, before I knew better about the details of the business operation and products themselves. I adored their fanatical ethos about providing the most simple, usable interface which is pure beauty at times, especially compared to Windows Vista and earlier incarnations. I had the usual file format sharing problems but that was nearly ten years ago and much has changed.
I am beginning to sense the sustainability sharks circling. Do the collective tech, media and sustainability communities feel like the change in CEO is an opportunity for change? Is Tim Cook allowing the Apple ship to sail a different course or is it a more premeditated departure than that? Without the imposing nature of Steve Jobs personally controlling every aspect of the business are we seeing Tim Cook imposing his own direction and values, or is this more evidence of the wider tipping point for mainstream sustainability? Are the corporate hiding places disappearing?
It’s early days but something is different. We’re seeing coverage of supply chain issues in mainstream media, beaming negative and challenging opinions directly into Apple’s core mainstream market. That market is also a maturing generation Y with greater disposable income to flex. This isn’t the loud minority of professional do-gooders or campaigners any longer.
The biggest frustration for me has always been the wasted potential. If Apple ever decides to be the leader it should be and creates a blockbuster iCSR / iSustainability (or whatever über cool name they conjure up) strategy and multiply by the inevitable amazing marketing prowess they control, they could substantially and genuinely change the world for the better.
An open letter:
Dear Tim Cook
You have inherited a window of opportunity to leave a global legacy far beyond that Steve Jobs provided the foundation for. You will be guaranteed support, lots of it – a whole planet’s worth.
Please create the ultimate brand. You’re already half way there.
Take one step, make it bold and unleash the potential to change the world.
David Connor (optimist and potential convert)
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