Apple’s annual supplier reports are a particularly unique combination of depressing and promising. They’re the latter because Apple is really the only tech company — and, really, one of the only companies period — that does such extensive audits and makes them public, embarrassing blemishes and all.
They’re the former because they show just how dismal the working conditions are of those who assemble much of the physical components of our daily lives. Think: if these are the conditions that are revealed when Apple audits factories that they’ve worked with for a very long time, imagine the conditions in factories that go unaudited.
If we want to outsource manufacturing in exchange for lower prices, I think we have an obligation to be cognizant of the working conditions of those who produce our goods. It’s extraordinarily difficult to purchase products that are guaranteed to be produced in a totally ethical environment, but we can do our best to support companies that make an attempt, or avoid purchasing from companies that aren’t nearly as ethical.
You can read Apple’s full report here (PDF).