Established in 1977, Apple designs and sells personal computers, smartphones, tablets and accessories and provides a variety of services such as Apple TV and Apple Music. It is known for its product innovations, such as colour displays and user interfaces. In 2021, Apple’s iPhone accounted for more than half its sales.
Apple provides discounts on its computer products for students and teachers to support increased digital access. The company also supports inclusivity for women in the tech sector through the Apple Entrepreneur Camp for female founders and developers, and it has launched its first women-dedicated Apple Developer Academy. The company particularly shows strong performance in enhancing accessibility for people with disabilities, 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 continues to be a top performer in the area of digital skills. The company supports basic digital skills development through its Community Education Initiative (CEI), 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 Community Education Initiative (CEI), which provides educational technology to over 100 schools, mainly in low-income neighbourhoods across the United States.
Apple’s commitment to cybersecurity can be seen in its disclosure of its information security management certification covering a range of its products and services, and its 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 report 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 has a range of collaborations with non-profits and universities supporting sustainable development initiatives. It also has innovative products for reducing environmental damage and a carbon reduction target, and it reports its renewable energy use and carbon emissions across all scopes. Additionally, Apple is one of the few companies in the benchmark to report both the number of women working in tech roles and the number of women working in research and development (R&D) across the company.
While Apple has a big portfolio of products for users with disabilities, it can follow best practice by proactively soliciting feedback on its products from the disability community. It can also disclose data on the number of its employees 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 it pays and employment in its main countries of operation. There is also an opportunity for the company to undertake a third-party impact assessment for its digital access programmes and for the Apple Entrepreneur Camp.
Apple provides significant details about its school connectivity programme CEI, 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 promoting intermediate digital skills.
While Apple has a commitment to cybersecurity, it lacks disclosure on its cybersecurity management practices and structure. Apple can also report the number of data breaches it experiences in line with best practice. Furthermore, though Apple has a number of initiatives for protecting children online, it can develop a child online safety code of conduct to integrate into all its business operations.
Although Apple offers a statement on the ethical considerations it uses 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 Assessment
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 this for 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 worker health and safety, and it places health and safety expectations on its business relationships and monitors their performance. However, there is an opportunity for the company to disclose quantitative information on health and safety for its workers. In relation to workforce diversity, the company provides a breakdown of employees in different categories by gender. However, it can also disclose employee breakdowns for other indicators of diversity, such as age group.
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 its 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 its business relationship contracts. 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.