Tech Companies Mum On Factory Audits

Under immense pressure, Apple decided to let independent auditors into its suppliers' factories. So we asked other companies: Will you do the same?

(Reuters / BOBBY YIP)

It's a simple question, phrased politely, and sent to the right people. Does your company have any plans to let independent auditors check up on your suppliers' factories?

Here's what I got from some of the world's biggest electronics companies. They had a month to respond:


Thanks for your note.  I’ve included a link to all of our supply chain related material, including audit results, supplier list (we were the first company to publish this list in 2008, and additional material you may find useful). 
Unfortunately I can’t provide a spokesperson for you at this time.


Microsoft is committed to ensuring the fair treatment and safety of workers at manufacturers contracted to our company.  We have invested heavily in a robust supply chain social and environmental accountability (SEA) program to ensure that supplier factory conditions are compliant with our Vendor Code of Conduct.  This means Microsoft’s hardware suppliers are required, under terms of our contract, to provide Microsoft and third-party auditors on-site access to each facility for auditing and assessment purposes.
Our program includes direct engagement with our contracted suppliers through an in-region SEA team to build their capabilities and awareness in relation to our code requirements, and to monitor their compliance and progress.  We train our suppliers on the Microsoft social and environmental requirements in supplier-training forums (since 2003), in one-on-one business performance review discussions, and in reviews and verification inspections of improvement plans for issues identified in audits and assessments.  If our strict standards are not met, suppliers risk termination of their contract. Our list of suppliers and the results of supplier audits are currently considered confidential business information.
Microsoft currently works with the Fair Labor Association [ed note: this is the organization Apple is working with] on a project basis, including conducting worker surveys and factory specific capability building projects. As we presently have a robust auditing program in place, a deeper engagement with the organization has not been considered by Microsoft.


Over the last couple of years, we have looked closely at how we can continue to evolve our global standards and practices to optimize for the health, safety and opportunity of the people that contribute to the success of HTC. As a member of the EITC, we conduct thirty to forty supplier audits each year to identify where practices need to be brought into compliance with standards. Our base in Taiwan gives us the proximity to react quickly to issues when they do arise.
This is a long term journey grounded in our commitment to act as a global leader, and we approach these issues with the goal of continually pushing ourselves, our suppliers and the industry towards ongoing improvement.

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