Taking the Bite out of Apple TSOMU Series -Part 1 of 3
This 3 part series looks at 3 perspectives of the cost to people in the manufacturing of Apple Products.
- Accountability for What? Constructing the 3rd Pillar – Social Sustainability
- Steve and Laurene Powell Jobs’ Legacy
- Defining the Future Inquiry
By Lavinia Weissman
Earlier this month, Apple filed its first 2012 Supplier Responsibility Report, Elaine Cohen, an expert on sustainability reporting gave her attention to this report immediately in her CSRWire TalkBack column, ITransparency: Is Apple Catching Up, praised Apple for the quality of disclosure reflected in the report. And at the same time with her tongue and cheek humor, Is there an App for That? Asking if there is a solution to the years of complicity in a host of human rights abuses and violations within Apple’s supply chain.
Charles Duhigg and Charles Barboza captured in detail the story of these abuses and an overview of the complicity between Apple, the small manufacturers and the multinational corporations that comprise the Apple supply chain in their NYTimes article, In China, Apple and Human Costs are Built Into the IPad .
This article portrayed up close and personal the harm to ordinary people, with normal motivations, e.g. working to have a family, buy a home and live in a society what workforce practices are dictated by the supply and demand for labor based on expertise, where product demand exceeds what is humanly possible to produce and where occupational and safety standards and wage regulations are ignored.
These stories make the corporate way clear, if an employee cannot step up to the demands of an employer at the cost of their health – mind and body, , the solution is to simply let this human cost go by and fill that job with others waiting in line for the job. Employers show no understanding of the principle of “do no harm,” described in the Earth Charter’s Principle 6, the Precautionary Principle.
Absent from these reports is a view of issues that merit attention from a societal view on what it means to be human and build a practice of sustainability embedding the missing 3rd pillar, social sustainability.”
The Implied Hope of Social Sustainability
The Brundtland Commission Report in 1987 ignited the csr and sustainability movement offering the framework of the 3 P’s – People, Planet and Profit along side the framework of the 3 E’s – Environment, Economy and Equity.
Attention to people and equity have become a missing pillar of the sustainability movement. In 2002, the Johannesburg Conference stressed that the integration of 3 dimensions could only be built out from a foundation of humane equitable and caring global society at the present time and for future generations.
Recently the Swedish Government and Sodotorn Univeristy funded Magnus Bostrom, Department of Life Sciences, Sodertorn University and his colleagues to ascertain the state of challenge to embedding social sustainability into society and culture. Bostrom’s summary report, A missing pillar, Challenges in theorizing and practicing social sustainability, is the introductory article to the Winter 2012 issue of Sustainability, Science, Practice and Policy, a global journal based in Washington DC.
According to Bostrom there are two obstacles to embedding social sustainability in sustainability development.
- By nature of the theory and thought leadership is fluid and falls behind the concrete approaches to repair the environment and economic agenda;
- In practice, social dimensions attract less attention and are far more challenging to operationalize and incorporate into projects and planning.
Bostrom identifies the substantive and procedural aspects of social sustainability which present another layer of complexity in terms of adoption and governance which is very aligned with the challenges outlined in the 2010 10 year review of the UN Global Compact by the UN Joint Inspection Unit in Geneva, Switzerland. This report identifies the challenges ahead for its 7700 members to address through its own governance and applying what is learned with a much greater impact beyond the current penetration of
The Brundtland Commission Report in 1987 inspired the hope that the world leaders would embed an agenda people with the promise of recognition of human needs addressed in a kinder way. Three decades of focus on the sustainable agenda have pushed these issues to the back burner, resulting in teh acceleration of poverty and injustice as the wealthy 1% control the economy without regard for the other 99%.
Is there a different approach to addressing this agenda taking form outside the engagement of institutions focused on practices of accountability, governance and transparency.
Could it be in his final six months of life, Steve Jobs inspired by his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs created the legacy to spark and innovate a social sustainable agenda through personal conversation with friends?
Stay tuned for Part 2 - Steve and Laurene Powell Jobs Legacy to Apple and the World
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