Established in 1977, Apple designs, manufactures and markets smartphones, personal computers, tablets and accessories and sells a variety of related services globally. It is known for its product innovations, such as colour displays and user interfaces for its computers and smartphones. In 2020, Apple’s iPhone accounted for more than half its sales, with over 50% of revenues generated outside the US.
Apple provides discounts on its computer products for students and teachers to broaden access. The company also supports inclusivity for women in the tech sector through the Apple Entrepreneur Camp for female founders and developers. Enhancing accessibility for users with disabilities is a strong area of performance for the company, with its special product features for users who have impairments related to hearing, mobility/dexterity or sight. It also has a dedicated accessibility website explaining the disability-related features of its products.
Apple is a top performer in the area of digital skills. The company supports basic digital skills development through its Community Education Initiative, partnering with educational institutions to teach coding to youth. The Apple Developer Academy contributes to technical digital skills advancement through a 10 to 12-month programme that teaches participants technical skills. The company also supports school connectivity through its flagship programme ConnectED, which provides educational technology to over 100 schools, mainly in low-income neighbourhoods across the US. Apple has also undertaken a third-party impact assessment for its ConnectED programme.
Apple demonstrates best practice in relation to senior-level responsibility for cybersecurity. The company upholds its high-level commitment to cybersecurity by having a Chief Information Security Officer, a cybersecurity committee, and a standalone security document. It also has an information security management certification covering a range of its products and services, and it publishes a transparency report detailing the government requests it receives for data. Apple has several product features that support online safety for children, and it collaborates with the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in the US to prevent child online abuse.
Apple commits to open source initiatives and contributes code for the developer community through a range of projects. It demonstrates best practice in its contribution to the tech innovation ecosystem, by supporting start-ups with founders from underrepresented groups through its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative and its Impact Accelerator for black and brown-owned businesses. The company also has a range of collaborations with non-profits and universities supporting sustainable development initiatives, and it shared data from its Maps product for mobility analysis during the COVID-19 pandemic. Apple also has a carbon reduction target, and it reports its renewable energy use and carbon emissions across all scopes. It also has innovative products for reducing environmental damage. Additionally, Apple reports on both the number of women working in technical roles and the number of women working in research and development (R&D) across the company.
Apple can disclose data on the number of its employees with disabilities. It can also proactively solicit feedback on its products from people with disabilities. Furthermore, while the company reports its indirect economic impact, it can be more forthcoming about how it distributes the direct economic value it creates among its stakeholders. Additionally, it can report the income taxes paid and employment in its main countries of operations. There is also an opportunity for the company to undertake a third-party impact assessment for its programmes for expanding access and for the Apple Entrepreneur Camp.
Apple provides significant details about its school connectivity programme ConnectED, including a third-party impact assessment. The company can extend these reporting practices to its other skills development initiatives. Additionally, the company can consider introducing an initiative for teaching intermediate digital skills.
Apple can report the number of its data breaches in line with best practice. Furthermore, though Apple has a number of initiatives for child online safety, it can develop a child online protection code of conduct to integrate into all its business operations.
Although Apple offers a statement on ethical considerations in product development, it should develop a publicly available framework that elaborates its ethical considerations for AI activities. It also has the opportunity to provide more information on the locations of its R&D facilities.
Core social indicators
The core social indicators assess societal expectations of business conduct that companies should meet if they aspire to be part of a system transformation that leaves no one behind.
Apple commits to respecting human rights and the ILO core labour rights, and it has a publicly available policy statement that expects its business relationships to commit to respecting the ILO core labour rights. Furthermore, the company has a grievance mechanism accessible to all stakeholders to raise human rights concerns and complaints. While Apple discloses a process to identify and assess human rights risks in its business relationships, it does not disclose a process to identify and assess human rights risks in its own operations. However, the company does provide specific examples of the actions it has taken to address the human rights risks it has identified.
Apple publicly commits to respecting the health and safety of workers, and it places health and safety expectations on its business relationships and monitors their performance. In relation to workforce diversity, the company provides a breakdown of employees in different employee categories by gender. However, it can also disclose this information for other indicators of diversity, such as age group, per employee category.
Apple has a UK-specific tax strategy, but no global tax strategy overseen by an executive or board-level group or individual. Furthermore, the company does not disclose income tax payments for all its individual tax jurisdictions. The company does have a policy prohibiting bribery and corruption, and it includes anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in contracts with its business relationships. However, it does not disclose a process to identify and address bribery and corruption risks. Apple discloses its overarching approach to lobbying and political engagement in a publicly available policy document, and requires third parties to comply with this policy. Nevertheless, the company does not disclose its global lobbying expenditures.