Is Apple Inc. really a responsible corporate citizen?

By on November 22, 2012

Apple Inc., the world leader in computers enjoys the status of being a premium and a trusted brand across the globe. The company is well aware of the social aspects of a business and therefore corporate social responsibility (CSR) is given due importance in the company. Apple claims to be a socially responsible citizen through its varied business activities. The details of environment-friendly manufacturing and supply chain activities can be well found on the company’s website. But the reality somehow differs. It is not that the company is not carrying out any CSR but the fact is Apple has a reactive CSR strategy. Time and again the company has undertaken CSR when problems occur and the company’s goodwill is at stake. The question therefore arises if Apple is really concerned about the society?

Apple Inc. & CSR

A recent example of the company’s reactive approach to CSR is the apology letter of its CEO Mr. Tim Cook. The latest product from the company iPhone 5 is not using Google maps; rather has distinct mapping software of its own. But as soon as the product is launched, the customers started complaining about the faults in the software. There were misplaced location markers and a few images were also not clear. The CEO apologized publicly and revealed and accepted the faults in the product. Though it is a sign of being socially responsible business, the same could have been done as soon as the product was launched. It is only when the customers found the fault and company feared the rejection of its newly launched iPhone 5, the step was taken. The business-oriented approach of Apple in the name of CSR is clearly visible in Mr. Cook’s statement, “The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.”

CSR or business promotion?

This is however a common scenario at most companies and the corporate social responsibility activities are undertaken more as a means of business promotion, rather than social welfare. CSR is more often used as a strategy for growth and the real purpose of CSR is mostly neglected. Though there are laws and provisions that require every corporate to do good to the society in which they flourish, but instead of adopting a proactive approach to CSR and recognizing areas of social crisis, the corporate houses find it simpler to cash an ongoing social issue for profit-making.  The need of the hour is to aware the consumers also about what a socially responsible business really mean. Any business investing into philanthropy or any other form of CSR may not necessarily be socially responsible.