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BBE351A Ethics and Social Responsibility Assignment Sample

Case Study:

Apple Took Three Years to Cut Ties with Supplier That Used Underage Labor Seven years ago, Apple made a staggering discovery: Among the employees at a factory in China that made most of the computer ports used in its MacBooks were two 15-year-olds.

Apple told the manufacturer, Suyin Electronics, that it wouldn’t get any new business until it improved employee screening to ensure no more people under 16 years of age got hired. Suyin pledged to do so, but an audit by Apple three months later found three more underage workers, including a 14-year-old. Apple, which has promised to ban suppliers that repeatedly use underage workers, stopped giving Suyin new business because of the violations. But it took Apple more than three years to fully cut its ties with Suyin, which continued to make HDMI, USB and other ports for older MacBooks under previous contracts. A person close to Suyin, which is headquartered in Taiwan, said that the company hadn’t intentionally hired underage workers and that it had passed Apple’s audits in later years.

Apple no longer does business with Suyin. But the previously unreported episode, drawn from documents reviewed by The Information and interviews with people who have direct knowledge of Apple’s dealings with Suyin, is a stark example of the dilemmas Apple faces in fulfilling its pledges to put workers first and not use manufacturers that consistently violate labor laws. And it demonstrates the fine line Apple has to walk in balancing the need to maximize profits with the expectation that it will prioritize good working conditions for its own employees and its suppliers’.

Apple has said in its supplier responsibility reports, which examine its compliance with labor, environmental and safety policies, that it has zero tolerance for the use of forced and underage labor. Suppliers must pay all wages and benefits as required by local laws and can’t make employees younger than 18 years of age work overtime or nights. If Apple finds violations of its supplier code of conduct, its suppliers typically must fix them within 90 days. But Apple faces problems in immediately removing suppliers who consistently breach these rules: Most obviously, there aren’t many alternative manufacturers that can easily pick up the slack. New suppliers can take years to meet Apple’s exacting standards for quality and volume.

In the case of Suyin, Apple’s procurement team was reluctant to abruptly shift orders to other suppliers because it would have created delays and incurred higher costs, said a former employee. In interviews, 10 former members of Apple’s supplier responsibility team—the unit in charge of monitoring manufacturing partners for violations of labor, environmental and safety rules— claimed that Apple avoided or delayed cutting ties with offenders when doing so would hurt its business. For example, the former team members said, Apple continued working with some suppliers that refused to implement safety suggestions or that consistently violated labor laws.

Although Apple says it won’t hesitate to remove suppliers, several former Apple employees say removals are rare. Between 2007 and 2020, Apple removed just 22 manufacturing facilities from its supply chain, according to its supplier responsibility reports. That figure represents about 1% of the roughly 2,000 locations where Apple suppliers work on its products, Apple’s internal data shows. Some suppliers have multiple locations.

“Our goal is to work hand in hand with suppliers to improve their management systems, rather than to simply remove them from our supply chain without correcting the issues we discovered,” Apple said in its latest supplier responsibility report. “In the event that a supplier is unwilling or unable to improve operations to meet our requirements, they risk removal from our supply chain.”

One factor that contributes to the low number of removals is that Apple’s supplier responsibility team can’t unilaterally ban a supplier because the team ultimately reports to the head of operations. It can make recommendations, but higher-ups in manufacturing and procurement make the final decision, former members of Apple’s supplier responsibility team said.

The size of Apple’s supply chain also makes it inherently difficult to monitor for labor, environmental and safety violations. Former Apple employees said factory audits, like the one that uncovered Suyin’s underage workers, aren’t completely effective in catching violations. For one thing, Apple often notifies suppliers of upcoming audits months in advance—surprise audits are in the minority. Apple said in its latest supplier responsibility report that it interviewed more than 52,000 supply chain workers in 2019. However, through its contractors, Apple is indirectly responsible for employing between 1.4 million and 1.8 million workers in China each year.

Another issue is that there are few incentives for suppliers to fix problems or for Apple’s procurement employees, who visit factories more often than auditors, to point them out. The procurement employees are mostly evaluated based on how much they can drive down the price of components. “On your performance reviews, you were supposed to report how much money you helped Apple save. You couldn’t report that you saved Apple from a PR black eye,” one former long-time Apple procurement employee said, referring to the self-assessment portion of personnel reviews.

Sun Hye Lee, an assistant professor at Loughborough University in the U.K. who has written about Apple’s supplier responsibility challenges, said Apple’s unwillingness to impose tough penalties on suppliers makes it easy for those suppliers to repeat their violations. “It’s giving the message to other suppliers that Apple won’t leave us forever, so we just have to hold the line for a while and then we can go back to what we were doing before,” she said.

This assessment consists of THREE compulsory questions. Answer all questions based on the situation described in the case study above.

1. Identify 3 main stakeholders that Apple must consider in dealing with the use of underage workers by its suppliers. Explain how Apple’s decisions can possibly impact each of the stakeholders

2. By applying the stakeholder theory, explain the most ethical decision that Apple should
take when it finds out that its supplier has used child labour. Explain your answer.

3. By using teleological theory, explain the most ethical decision that Apple should take when it finds out that its supplier has used child labour. Explain your answer.


1. As per the case scenario of an ethical issue, Apple deals with the ethical issue of underage workers. The main stakeholders who are responsible for the same are contractors, suppliers, and manufacturers. The scenario has conveyed that the referred three stakeholders are directly involved with the issue of underage workers for Apple (Apple, 2022). The contractors on the part of Apple take care of the recruitment. Hence, it is quite clear that they are well informed regarding the issue. Manufacturers are directly dealing with the workers and have all the information or acknowledgment about their underage though remain ignorant of the same. Suppliers, though they are not directly involved with such ethical considerations; still, they support the same to maintain the supply and demand process of the market. The decision of Apple can be much more impactful for all referred stakeholders. The contractors and the manufacturers can completely be rejected by Apple to do any sort of business due to such unethical practices. On the other hand, the suppliers even can have threats due to enough availability of suppliers to switch by Apple to not to entertain such unethical practice.

2. The stakeholder theory conveys business ethics and management for every stakeholder with enough focus on the interconnected relationship among all (Barney, and Harrison, 2020). On the part of Apple, the most ethical decision would be having such policies which immediately reject the recruitment of underage people. The decision even needs to accommodate implementation with enough acknowledgment of such policy in the scenario in every country. Understanding the interconnected relationship between every stakeholder, it is important for Apple to have a meeting or seminar or any set of communication to convey the policy to every stakeholder with otherwise consequences to make them aware of the negative outcome of such unethical practices. With created, implemented, and acknowledged policy of recruitment to not to hire any people, Apple can have better justification for the legal structure as well as for the suppliers. It would even be an important decision to take a direct part in the recruitment process to not to blame any supplier solely for such unethical practices as throughout monitoring and evaluation, Apple not only can remove such unethical practices from the organizational culture, rather it can even have a better employer-employee relationship to have the best outcome of stakeholder theory.

Teleological theory for assignment help conveys the theory of morality which derives moral or duty obligation through the perspective of desirable or good considerations to have at the end of the process. It focuses on the goal of ethics (Juvrud, and Gredebäck, 2020). As per the case scenario, the suppliers are involved in the unethical practice of child labor. It is severely impactful on the reputation and brand image of the organization as well as directly violates the legislation. Exercising Teleological theory, Apple can better reciprocate the entire scenario to the suppliers with negative consequences to find out the common ground in this particular perspective. Apple cannot remove or reject all the suppliers or the underage workers immediately. Hence, it would be better for Apple to make the suppliers aware of such ethical issues beforehand so as not to face such complexities afterward. Ethical training can even be a better way out to make the suppliers more focused on ethics or moral values. The positive outcome can further be initiated if the suppliers would be involved in the decision-making process. By understanding their perspective, if Apple would take any decision regarding the issue, then the decision can have a far-reaching impact as no compulsion would be there for implementation of the same. In this particular concern, Apple can exercise the Pareto principle and brainstorm as decision-making styles to have the best outcome with minimum input through the support of everyone.


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