The approaches of Apple and the other giant US platform technology companies (Google, Facebook, Amazon) to corporate taxation, concentration and privacy have attracted widespread criticism.
But as a manufacturing company Apple faces a more deep-seated problem. This involves the millions of people employed in its supply chain, which is largely located in China with the major contractor Foxconn.
Our research shows human rights, environmental and ethical problems persist inside Apple’s vast global supply chains.
Apple Inc. is the richest and most iconic corporation in the world. In 2010 Apple became the most valuable brand, with an 84% jump in brand value to $153.3 billion. By March 2015 Apple’s revenue was up to $212.2 billion, while in February 2015 Apple attained a market capitalisation of $770 billion, nearly double that of ExxonMobil, Google and Microsoft. Apple’s large profit margins have contributed to a cash hoard of $193.5 billion, which means that the company has more cash on hand compared to cash balances of most industries in the United States combined. In a stark illustration of how extreme inequality disfigures operations in global value chains, Apple’s abundant wealth ultimately rests on the suffering of young workers in electronic sweatshops where human rights, labour standards, environmental safety, and business integrity are routinely ignored.