Apple has announced it is to partner with an NGO in order to help human trafficking victims become caretakers and landscapers at its stores.
The technology firm will work alongside the UN’s International Organization for Migration to help the victims pass interviews. The victims will not work directly for Apple but will be employed by one of its contractors, the technology company does however plan to monitor the process.
Apple’s announcement comes after it won the Stop Slavery Award, which recognises retailers that are at the forefront of efforts to stop forced labour. Judges said that Apple had an “extremely robust” audit programme and added that it had “openly shared its learnings with the public”.
One campaign group, China Labor Watch, branded Apple “a joke”, with its executive director, Li Qiang, saying that while it “may be doing more compared to other companies” the reason for this was only because “it has the resources to do so”. Qiang added: “Apple isn’t doing enough, as forced labour persists in its suppliers’ factories in China.”
The BBC reported this morning that despite the fact that the new employment process was underway, only a handful of people have been employed through it so far. Despite the fact the roles for victims are currently only with contractors, Apple’s Angela Ahrendts did not rule out front-of-house jobs for them in the future when she said “we see huge opportunity to be a beacon of hope for trafficking survivors integrating them into our retail team”.
Peter Frankental, business and human rights programme director, said: “While it shouldn’t be necessary to reward companies for taking steps to stop slavery in their business, we should recognise that some companies, such as Apple, are doing more than others to be transparent about how they are tackling slavery in the supply chain.
“It could go further though. And whilst it’s commendable that Apple is investigating its cobalt supply chain, it’s still failing to disclose all the human rights risks and abuses it finds.”
Apple declined to provide further comment when contacted by Retail Sector.