Although Apple is one of the largest companies in the world, with millions of people in possession of their gadgets, they hire outside contractors to make their products. One of the largest producers for Apple, according to the article, is Foxconn. The latter, a company based in Taiwan, manufactures products for Sony, Nintendo, and Amazon, alongside Apple’s iPhones and iPads. As a large company, Foxconn employs over a million of employees, and in the past concerns have been expressed about the quality of the working conditions. Specifically, there had been instances of employee suicide and deaths as result of faulty machinery and improper safety regulations. Although Foxconn managed to improve its working conditions after pressure from its customers, its increased costs have caused the company to search alternative solutions. As a result of this reputation fiasco, inadequate sales numbers for the 2018 iPhones, and Apple’s use of other manufacturing companies, the continuation of the relationship between Foxconn and Apple is now at risk.
Threats, Opportunities, Strengths, and Weaknesses at Foxconn
One of the most prominent threats and weaknesses at Foxconn is its disregard for its employees. Although having a profit at the forefront of the company’s strategies is not in itself unethical, the actions and incidents that can follow from such prioritization can be detrimental to the company in the long run. This can be seen in the example of Foxconn, as its inconsiderate and irresponsible attitude towards its employees led to negative publicity, loss of revenue, and partial loss of partnerships.
On the other hand, some of the strengths of Foxconn lie in its size. As mentioned, it is a company with over a million employees and with enough budget to be able to swiftly change locations when needed. Being able to damage control in such a way is a privilege that Foxconn had made good use of, as can be seen in its prosperous work today.
Strategies for Improving Ethical Decision Making and Corporate Social Responsibility
Due to the events of the previous years, there is quite a lot of damage control that would have to be done at Foxconn, as was understood by its management. Therefore, depending on the stage at which I would have been hired as an advisor, I would first recommend publishing a public apology for the events transpired and offering compensation to the affected families. The next step would be to ensure that nothing of the kind happens again. Therefore, I would advise administering a company-wide employee satisfaction questionnaire and collecting feedback on possible improvements to the working conditions. Some of the changes could involve increased break-time, improved staff rooms and facilities, and free counseling available to the employees. Furthermore, introducing relaxation stations at work, perhaps with therapy dogs or yoga and meditation instructors, could also be beneficial. By showing that the company does not prioritize profit over its employees Foxconn would not only improve its reputation but possibly gain more revenue as companies would be more willing to work with it.
Tim Cook’s Motivation for Moving Apple’s Business Away from Foxconn
As described in the scenario, Foxconn’s reputation started to decline after the various incidents such as the suicides of the employees and the deaths due to the preventable machinery faults. As a socially responsible company, Apple prides itself on keeping its partners up to particular standards. Therefore, being associated with a company that is allegedly causing its employees to commit suicide would go against Apple’s ethics. Furthermore, when Foxconn began to amend its faults, it was forced to lower its costs by seeking alternative, cheaper manufacturing sites, which could have also been a liability concern for Cook. Although evidently, as of 2020, Apple remains partnered with Foxconn (Miller, 2020), it is understandable for Tim Cook to seek a safety net in case of Foxconn’s fall as a company. Therefore, Cook’s decision to redistribute Apple’s business elsewhere instead of keeping it all at Foxconn is a fiscally and socially responsible one.
Miller, C. (2020). New report highlights the ‘eroding’ relationship between Apple and Foxconn. 9To5Mac.