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We've seen evidence in the past that Apple is increasingly concerned about its good name in the eyes of human rights activists and environmentalists, and today we learned that it recently made a huge step in order to ensure that it lives up to its commitments. As AppleInsider reports, Apple has assembled a group of academics to present research that details how to improve standards throughout its supply chain.
According to the Watson Institute for International Studies, the group first met around six months ago and is chaired by Richard Locke, a professor at Brown University. Other members of the advisory council include Mark Cullen (Stanford University), Eli Friedman (Cornell University), Mary Gallagher (University of Michigan), Margaret Levi (University of Washington), Dara O'Rourke (University of California, Berkeley), Charles Sabel (Columbia University), and Annelee Saxenian (University of California, Berkeley).
Notably, every board member is a volunteer--a distinction that does much to assuage possible fears that the academics involved are in Apple's pocket, so to speak. The research (which board members are expected to compile themselves) will focus on Apple's supply chains and how to improve them. Better yet, these won't be secret documents meant only for Apple CEO Tim Cook's desk; they'll be published in academic journals and made public.
According to Locke, a chief goal of the board is to see that the workers who work along every segment of Apple's supply chain "are paid living wages, work within the legal work hour regimes, [and] work in environments that are safe and where they can express their rights as citizens." It's but another step in Apple's already longstanding commitment to decent conditions for its workers, as outlined in its "Supplier Code of Conduct."
This isn't mere lip service. Earlier this month we saw that Apple was sending a "fact-finding" expedition to Indonesia to investigate reports that its tin was coming from illegal mines, and earlier this year, Apple ceased to do business with Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics when it found out that underaged employees were employed at the factories.
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.