The Harsh Reality of Apple

After listening to the This American Life radio show voiced by Ira glass, I was reminded by the harsh reality of what goes into the making of a product. The episode “Mr. Daisy and Apple” features Mike Daisey, who broadcasted his own segment called “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” Throughout the podcast Daisey explains how he was curious about the Foxconn plant and how workers are being treated. Daisey took a trip to the Foxconn location and China and reported back horrible facts about how Apple products are being made. What he observed was that the use of child labor laws were not being practiced and children as young as 12 years old were working at the plant.  As a person living in the U.S I was shocked to learn that child labor still occurs especially with a major company like Apple. The hours assigned to workers were long and damaging for a person to be at work. Daisey also reported a vast number of suicides by workers who were unhappy with their job status but could not act upon it or get another job because of the few jobs that were available to them.

I was disturbed after the podcast because I use so many Apple products including the IPhone, Ipad, MacBook, and Apple Watch. I also know many of my peers on campus who use Apple products and look forward to every time an updated version of their IPhone or Ipad comes out. Apple products help our daily lives become easier and give us the chance to use technology in a lot of different ways. We are also a generation who has grown up using Apple products and taught through media and other sources that Apple is the best. With this mindset it is upsetting to learn that the products I buy are made at the costs of others happiness and work life community. From Daisey’s input we can gain the awareness of what is going on at Apple and keeping up to date on how all products we buy can be made sustainably.

Apple is not the only company who has been reported to mistreat their employees; many other companies have problems with their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and are working to fix theses problems by starting with how their products are made. Many companies use the green washing tactic to cover up flaws they might have with labor or work life in general. This is not appropriate for companies to do and a student like myself and others must be educated to learn the differences of when a company really cares about their CSR and when they are just green washing to cover up their mistakes.


Also after researching this podcast I learned that much of what Daisey said in the interview and his broadcast was fabricated but some of the facts about work life remain true.





4 thoughts on “The Harsh Reality of Apple

  1. You bring up some really interesting ideas. This problem definitely spans beyond the scope of Apple- if Apple is treating workers like this, how many other companies are doing the same exact thing? The idea that companies would use these green washing tactics to cover up their flaws is most certainly unsettling. It is sad what companies are willing to sacrifice in order to make a higher margin of profit. Companies should be rewarded for caring for their CSR but instead companies in today’s society are being rewarded for their profitability/ covering up their mistakes.


  2. I find it very interesting that you exposed the idea of other companies mistreating workers for their personal and profitable gain. Why is Apple placed under such scrutiny when companies are creating similar, toxic workplace environments for outsourced manufacturing? We hail Apple as such an innovative and stylish company based on the products (devices) and value they provide to their consumers. I agree with your blog post and the prior comment about rewarding a company’s CSR, but I disagree that profitability is less important than CSR. Profitability is not only a goal, but an expectation. Without the profitability provided by a corporation, they would not be able to set aside and allocate company funds to improving working conditions or sharpening their corporate responsibility. Thus, I do not find it entirely wrong that society rewards corporations for profitability.


  3. Great post, I agree with a lot of the points that you raised here. As you mention, I also feel that it is shameful that Apple, as one of America’s largest and most influential companies, continues to engage in these sorts of practices. As some of the other readings suggest, Apple had legitimate opportunities in the past to achieve more humane working standards and less environmental damages; however, they ignored these opportunities, choosing instead to prioritize cutting costs, ignoring many of the important facets of corporate social responsibility. With this horrible example Apple has set, other companies are virtually forced to follow suit in hopes of remaining competitive. Something needs to be done to institute a new norm–a new ideology–that addresses some of these concerns.


  4. In response to Lexi, I think you are right about profitability versus CSR and what should come first. I think it comes down to being practical and seeing how a company’s CSR can make them a profit while only doing what they can to stay on task by improving all areas of their business.


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