News: Apple to hire human trafficking victims for its retail stores

Employee Relations

Apple to hire human trafficking victims for its retail stores

The tech company has teamed up with an NGO for the initiative and has already employed a few people.
Apple to hire human trafficking victims for its retail stores

Apple has partnered with an NGO, International Organization for Migration to help trafficking victims pass interviews for roles such as caretaker and landscaper. Those enrolled in the program will not be revealed to the staff at Apple and new hires will be processed through partner suppliers, though the company will monitor the success of the program.

The initiative was announced by Apple’s Retail Chief, Angela Ahrendts when she received the Stop Slavery Award on behalf of the company in London. 

"Though we have only just started, we see huge opportunity to be a beacon of hope for trafficking survivors integrating them into our retail team. These efforts are just a part of a broader set of initiatives to eliminate modern slavery from every part of our company, in every part of the world,” shared Angela Ahrendts. 

Apple’s endeavor to create jobs for the human trafficking victims is said to be part of a broader set of initiatives led by the technology giant, to eliminate modern slavery from every part of the company, in every part of the world. 

In recent years, Apple has put in place many people-focused programs, including audits to check for wrongful "recruitment fees" charged by some suppliers, banning contractors who don't repay such fees, sourcing materials more responsibly, and banning suppliers who force employees to work off debts. 

Now, under the new program it seeks to provide jobs to these victims not only with third-party contractors but in time it may be extended to include front-of-house retail staff employed by Apple itself. 

Poor labor practices in tech companies: A neglected issue

Labor abuse in the supply chains of technology companies is a common problem, yet they often get unnoticed. In 2016, Human rights organization Amnesty had accused Apple, Samsung and Sony, among others, of failing to do basic checks to ensure that minerals used in their products are not mined by children. It was found that children as young as seven are working in dangerous conditions.

Then recently, in June, Foxconn was under scrutiny for its poor worker conditions. From riots, poor living standards, accidents at work to underpaying wages, tech giants have been reported to indulge in unacceptable labor practices. While they have made some progress to clean up their act in recent years, the overall level of performance is still low. Even Angela Ahrendts acknowledged this and shared that although Apple is now behaving better than many of its competitors, it is still not enough.

It is a major paradox of the digital era that some of the world's most innovative companies, knowingly or unknowingly tend to get involved in poor employment practices. This highlights the need to have more efficient audit processes to ensure that employment standards are maintained and all the staff, permanent, temporary and with the third party and suppliers are being treated fairly. 

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Topics: Employee Relations

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