Tim Cook: It all comes down to human dignity

Accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award from his alma mater, Auburn University, Apple CEO Tim Cook talked about witnessing discrimination first-hand as a youth to frame his - and Apple's focus on human rights, according to AllThingsD.

Cook focused much of his speech to advocate for equal rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community and for immigration reform.

As a child growing up in Alabama, Tim Cook witnessed cross-burning at the home a family near his. Cook said that image "permanently imprinted" on him as a "symbol of ignorance, of hatred, and a fear of anyone different than the majority."

Cook turned to explain how an emphasis on human dignity guides day to day business at Apple. He described a recent email he received from a mother of a non-verbal autistic child who, for the first time in his life, "found his voice" thanks to the iPad.

"We design our products so they surprise and delight everyone who uses them," said Cook. "And we never, never ever analyze the return on investment. We do it because it is just and right. And that is what human dignity requires, and it is a part of Apple that I am especially proud of."

That philosophy carries forth to how Apple works with its suppliers, and has also guided Apple to support pending legislation - currently stalled in the United States Congress - called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of of sexual orientation or gender identity - a long-standy policy of Apple already which Cook would like to see made part of federal law.

"It all comes down to human dignity," said Cook.

Source: AllThingsD

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Peter Cohen

Mac Managing Editor of iMore and weekend Apple Product Professional at a local independent Apple reseller. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Tim Cook: It all comes down to human dignity


I think I could see where this fits more if Cook had focused on the working conditions of Chinese [Foxxcon] workers, after all that's where they've received the most flack over the past year, ya?

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He did. Without focusing on location or naming suppliers, he mentioned that Apple has positioned "hundreds" of employees in its facilities and the factories it uses to make sure that Apple's human rights policies are followed, even if they exceed the letter of local law.

And in fairness, Apple has been much more transparent about this than the vast majority of the other companies that contract Hon Hai (Foxconn) and other Chinese manufacturers.

I agree with you, Apple seems to be aware of the fact that so many other countries are operating business without the benefit/luxury of the protective protocols that the US has been fine tuning since the early 1900's and Apple seems to be trying to help bring other countries up to speed without bullying them about it.

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If they really cared so much about it they wouldn't continue using those who break/are constantly in the news about poor work conditions/human rights

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"And we never, never ever analyze the return on investment."
I suspect everybody nearly fell out of thier chair when he said that.

Tim's remark Is not surprising in the context of Apple's long commitment to building assistive technologies into their products to help people with disabilities. That is what he was talking about.

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Most business people would fall flat out of their chair but with everything I've read about him, I wouldn't put it past him. Tim Cook always seems to talk about customer satisfaction ratings. That's his version of ROI.

He is referring to the cost of developing all the accessibility features in Apple's products. Those features benefit a very small percentage of Apple customers, yet are certainly expensive to develop.

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We need more CEO that think and believe in Humanity. I believe it would change the way many companies conduct business. Great guy and leader!

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Great speech - very impressed with how unashamedly political Cook has been in calling for Enda and immigration reform. In wonder whether he may enter politics at some point?

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I think Cook is really to coming into his own as Apple's CEO. I've been very impressed with the way Apple has been handling things.

Relative to most major corporations, Cook and Apple make it easier to own their products. That said, it's sad that the industry bar is relatively low. Love the gear, but not totally satisfied with corporate policies just yet etc.

"That philosophy carries forth to how Apple works with its suppliers, and has also guided Apple to support pending legislation - currently stalled in the United States Congress - called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of of sexual orientation or gender identity - a long-standy policy of Apple already which Cook would like to see made part of federal law."

Ummm maybe I'm wrong but I don't think so. Isn't this already codified into federal law? As a small business employer myself I see it every single day the ridiculous overlapping of one federal or state/local regulation after another. It's damn near impossible to keep up with these ever evolving changes & additions.
For a huge multi-national like Apple sure it's probably not as complex with an entire HR dept & legal team to keep them up to speed. But come on Tim, it's a small business like mine that has to constantly learn of new obtuse rules that oftentimes overlap some other rule on the books that causes the most grief. Oh & these crazy rules always have to include new enforcement staff at some level to do what is already being done elsewhere.
As far as immigration reform does Apple not have enough labor to meet their needs here already or in other countries they do business? I'm certain there are enough people in need of work that can be trained to fulfill many jobs at companies if they put their money where their mouth is. How about an Apple sponsored & funded school that applicants can enroll in & learn software engineering/programming & CNC machining of Apple's hardware? They can afford it I'm thinking.
I like Apple & in many ways admire the companies history of innovation & creativity. Tim Cook I also believe to be a good CEO who is righting a number of the wrongs that Steve Jobs put in place in years past. However this newfound public advocacy Apple keeps dipping its toes into is going to lead to big problems in the public perception arena & the halls of gov't oversight.

Just ask Microsoft & Google.

I get how you feel bout this.
At a few points it was hard for me to decide if Mr. Cook was pitching a speech about Apple's support of equal right for application in their work ethics or if Mr. Cook was starting a campaign. I can see the relevancy in equal rights for people in the work place and I agree but the underlying principles need to be focused on humans as humans and not you're human with a twist so you need special accommodations to be considered equal.
I don't really see where immigration falls under an employment umbrella for Apple - unless they are planning in opening factories in the US where lots of people are assembling their products for hourly pennies on the dollar... They could build their factories right smack on the border and save illegal immigrants a lot of trouble.
* Oh, Mr Cook... The man's name is Martin Luther King, JR. It is significant.

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"Isn't this already codified into federal law?"

No it isn't. Sexual orientation and gender identification most certainly isn't a protected class the same way race is. There are still laws on the books in many states that enable employers to discriminate on this basis. ENDA seeks to eliminate this.

Actually no I'm not wrong.


And I'll give you the pull quote just to simplify things;

"The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has interpreted the prohibition of discrimination based on conduct to include discrimination based on sexual orientation."

That is the agency that oversees all federal employment guidelines & good luck going against them them law or not. They interpret it to mean that & that's how they enforce it. More laws when they are already in place is just more bureaucracy that will never be enforced but give more chumps a gov't job.

And the proposed ENDA law cannot be forced on the states under the 9th & 10th Amendments to the Constitution. But with with 'Debaclecare AKA Obamacare' being shoved down our throats anything is possible I guess.

That is regarding discrimination of employees of the federal government. So no, it doesn't apply to every business in every state.

And sorry that saynig you can't treat a group of people like dirt might be "shoved down your throat." Move somewhere else if you want to discriminate.

Whatever fantasy land you just woke up in I don't know & don't care. I made a general statement about law that existed already. Not wanting to descriminate against anybody. I rightfully pointed out that ENDA cannot be enforced on the states unless they buckle to pressure. Like it or not that's the fact.

As for you painting me with your broad brush & telling me to move no thank you. I'm quite happy where I am & I comply will all labor laws. But I'll give no special treatment to a pervert who thinks he should be able to use the ladies room because he says he feels like a woman. So you take your search for victims & move. I'll stay right where I am.

Developing products with an eye on accessibility often has benefits for all users. As an example, I develop electronic forms that are used by employees with a wide range of computer experience. One form originally had 17 fields to fill out. I have since reduced that to one. If a person were disabled and required voice control, wouldn't one control be easier than 17?

I don't know. Apple is good -- very good, at making gizmos. I'd rather not listen to speeches about inequalities from a CEO who's criss-crossing his company's path with his-own life. Either you are Tim Cook, the person, or you're Apple.

You do provide a valid perspective of potentially conflicting interests. Given the stage of influence Mr. Cook hails from, this could easily be construed as PR building considering that Apple obviously focuses solely on how their products affect or lives and not how our lives affect our lives.

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"I'd rather not listen to speeches about inequalities from a CEO who's criss-crossing his company's path with his-own life."

If this were intertwined with a corporate message for Apple, I could understand your resistance. But he was accepting a lifetime achievement award on his own behalf as an alumnus of Auburn. Obviously his own story is inextricably linked with Apple at this point - he's the head of the company and has been an integral part of its success for more than a decade.

I respectfully disagree. There are two separate messages within Mr. Cook's speech: “Growing up in Alabama in the 1960s, I saw the devastating impacts of discrimination,” and 'Cook said he is glad that his path has taken him to Apple, a company that shares his values.' One can, and -- IMO, should be able to unlink him/herself from a company he/she runs while giving personal and emotional accounts. He blurred the lines in his speech as to whom the award was given: The CEO or the person.

Peter, put it this way: What have Apple, Inc. done to end discrimination? (If anything, Apple is just as guilty as many other companies in exploiting their bottom-line.) I see no need to correlate personal believes with the company you run, when you make broad statements about firsthand devastating impacts of discrimination.

I think the real conflict I have is that I am an Apple fan/supporter/product user, but being a UGA alum... Tim Cook hails from Auburn...
Ugh! Where do my loyalties lie?

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While I like Apple products, seeing Tim Cook try and push an agenda is off putting. I completely agree and believe that nobody should be discriminated against for being gay but to try and make it "normal" is disgraceful. Obviously if Mr. Cook is gay then he sees it as being ok and I do not believe as others do that he should "come out" if he chooses not to. I think that is his choice and a personal thing that so many people feel they need to throw in our faces. I respect his choice to keep his private life private. As for the immigration reform why won't he just say what he really means, which is blanket amnesty for all illegal immigrants? And I'm sorry but I wouldn't be patting myself on the back for their record on labor conditions for the people who produce their devices. Designed in California, made in China tells you all you need to know about how they don't care about "return on investment."

It may feel awkward to hear Mr. Cook speak about LGBT rights if it's something we're unaccustomed to experiencing... That and the only times we usually see/hear from him it's always about Apple.

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"While I like Apple products, seeing Tim Cook try and push an agenda is off putting. I completely agree and believe that nobody should be discriminated against for being gay but to try and make it "normal" is disgraceful."

This^ 100%

Why does everybody have to have someone's personal life shoved in their face & told we have to accept it? Then the same crowd demand immediate privacy for themselves. You either want to be left alone or not. Leave your personal business out of my business & we are good. If I hire somebody to do a job I don't care if they are heterosexual or homosexual. I care whether they can produce results. Once they start pushing their agenda & it affects my business then we have issues.

My bigger point I was trying to express was that I wish people were very clear about what they mean. What Mr. Cook is clearly wanting is the legalization of gay marriage. To put Martin Luther King Jr. name in this conversation is repugnant. MLK was a pastor and I find it difficult to believe he would be for gay marriage. Now would you dare call MLK a bigot or accuse him of discrimination? Having said this I will continue to buy Apple products as long as I feel they are my best choice. If we stopped buying from every company who didn't perfectly align with our personal beliefs I doubt any of us would have much to choose from.

A good immigration service is high-net-worth-immigration.com , they offer a range of citizenship-by-investment programs which enable you to legally apply for irrevocable citizenship and passport in another country.