Apple responds

Apple says it’s looking into charges of bad working conditions for its factory workers in China:

“Apple is committed to ensuring that working conditions in our supply chain are safe, workers are treated with respect and dignity, and manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible,” the statement explains.

The company also explains that it is “currently investigating the allegations regarding working conditions in the iPod manufacturing plant in China”.

They want to adhere to the Electronic Industry Code of Conduct, they say.

I’m glad they’ve responded to these allegations so quickly; they could have easily shrugged them off as companies often do.

Warning: This summer I’m teaching a class on the history of public relations, and I’m about to get wonky.

This reminds me of a comment Edward Bernays, thought of by many as the father of public relations, made to a professor of mine, Stuart Ewen, when Stuart was interviewing Bernays for his book on PR.  Bernays told the story of Dumb Jack, the family driver, who back in the late 19th century had to work seven long days a week to provide the Bernays family with his services.  “That was before people got a social conscience,” Bernays told Ewen.  What he meant was once the Progressives of the late 19th and early 20th century started investigating the causes of terrible social conditions, companies and wealthy individuals had to worry about the image of what they were doing.  Once people “got a social conscience,” it was necessary for a company’s public image be clean, lest they incur the wrath of the people.

This is what Apple is doing, but I’m glad they’re doing it.

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