Apple CEO Tim Cook defended the company's human rights record and indirectly lambasted recent stories in the New York Times and other outlets that brought that record into question, according to an internal e-mail leaked to 9 to 5 Mac.
Neither Cook nor his company has seen fit to respond publicly to the damning exposes, which revealed inhumane working conditions at Apple’s Chinese manufacturing suppliers. In keeping with that, Cook does not actually refer to the stories but instead seeks to explain all that Apple is doing to look after said workers.
“We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern,” Cook wrote.
And then he made a veiled reference to the Times, NPR and others in the media who have reported on the suppliers.
“Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It’s not who we are.”
The Times’ stories quoted a mixture of former Apple executives, consultants who have worked with the company and former employees of those manufacturers.
Many of them paint a picture of negligence when it comes to workers’ rights abuses. Apple is aware of issues like excessively low wages and exposure to toxic chemicals through its annual audits, but the statistics and first person accounts suggest conditions have not greatly improved.
Foxconn, a major Apple supplier, denied many of the problems cited in the reports. Meanwhile, Cook's e-mail, which might as well represent Apple’s response, insists the situation is improving and that Apple is doing all that it can.
He cites various actions, such as independent evaluations and educating workers about their rights.
He also conveys what should be the sentiment of both his company and its partners.
“For the many hundreds of you who are based at our suppliers’ manufacturing sites around the world, or spend long stretches working there away from your families, I know you are as outraged by this as I am,” Cook wrote in reference to recent accusations.
Cook's claims and those made in recent stories seem to be at odds. Those that spoke with the Times suggested Apple is not doing all it can to help the workers.
One reason? It has bigger issues to worry about, like how to spend its nearly $100 billion in cash.