Over the last few years, I have fallen in love with Apple products. The ease of use, playfulness in design, and power they demonstrate have got me hooked on the product. With that being said, I was very saddened at this recent article discussing Apple’s failure to address concerns regarding labour practices at factories making the product. Immediately when I read the article, I thought of my youth when I had heard about the conditions that children were facing at Nike factories in Asia. The writer of this article clearly thought about that same instance:
Apple ignores these demands at its own risk. Such assaults on a company’s reputation—especially a company as brand-focused as Apple—have rattled powerful organizations before, from the recent controversy at the Susan G. Komen Foundation to Nike’s labor rights failures in the 1990s.
I remember as an avid basketball player, choosing other products from the Nike brand as it just didn’t feel right to still continuously buy this product. It just didn’t feel right. I cannot even remember the last time I bought a Nike shoe, although admittedly I do own a pair or two.
With social media giving so many a voice in our world now, how could a company so quickly ignore any type of social injustice being created by the need for profit? With people seemingly having less connection to the companies that they purchase from, Nike still had a PR nightmare in the 90′s:
Another industrial design giant, Nike, endured the same kind of public relations nightmare in the 1990s, when consumers and activists made the company’s storied brand synonymous with sweatshops around the world. At a university convening on sweatshop issues in 2001, Nike representative Todd McKean bravely acknowledged, “Our initial attitude was, ‘Hey, we don’t own the factories; we don’t control what goes on there.’ Quite frankly, that was a sort of irresponsible way to approach this.” Consistent with assertions about Apple’s power and influence, McKean went on to say “We had people there every day looking at quality. Clearly, we had leverage and responsibility with certain parts of the business, so why not others?”
As Simon Sinek has clearly used Apple as a company that clearly defines their “Why”, I am hoping that they address this in a way that is transparent and showing their eagerness to rectify this situation.
School leaders can definitely learn from this Apple miscue. We have to continuously realize and embrace that our “customers” have a voice, and when we make mistakes, we must listen and rectify. I have watched my own brother challenge Sasktel recently and receive a great deal of attention as the company has seemingly performed a bit of a “bait and switch”. Customers know that they have a voice.
This does not mean that sometimes we are unable to have disagreements as education is a complex profession that many have different opinions on, but communication is imperative. I am proud to be in a school division that does its best to continuously be transparent in our message, and they have recently hired a new Communications Director to continue to work on how we can connect with our stakeholders in an open manner. Sometimes messages can get muddied through so many mediums, but what I have learned from Brian is that simple and straight to the point are always your best bet.
Hopefully Apple gets to the point and fixes this problem sooner than later.