An academic advisory board has been created by Apple for its Supplier Responsibility program. Richard Locke, a professor at Brown University and Director of the Watson Institute, will chair the board, which has been active for the last six months. The board will perform the following functions, according to the announcement:
- Study and make recommendations to Apple about current policies and practices
- Conduct or commission new research on labor standards within Apple's supply chain
- Share existing research which may help improve those policies and practices
The board is all-volunteer and consists of eight professors from top U.S. universities. In addition to Locke, these are Mark Cullen, Eli Friedman, Mary Gallagher, Margaret Levi, Dara O'Rourke, Charles Sabel, and Annlee Saxenian. Locke hopes this group will be able to influence Apple's policies to ensure that workers operate under safe and fair conditions.
The technology industry as a whole, and Apple in particular, has often been criticized for the conditions under which products are made. But Apple has also been very transparent about the practices across its supply lines, publishing yearly reports on supplier responsibility. The formation of an advisory board is a logical step for Apple to take in their continuing efforts to make sure that their products are made in safe and worker-friendly environments.