Big tech giant that lobbied against slave labor ban commits to a ‘racial equity’ audit

Harry Wilmerding, DCNF 

Apple confirmed Wednesday that it will conduct a racial equity audit of its policies, The Washington Post reported, after the tech giant lobbied against legislation intended to combat the use of forced labor in the supply chains.

Apple investors initially approved a shareholder proposal mandating the company undertake a “racial equity focused” audit of its policies on March 4, The Washington Post reported. Apple initially opposed the proposal but said Wednesday it will accept the audit.

The audit is intended to analyze “the adverse impact of Apple’s policies and practices on the civil rights of company stakeholders,” according to the proposal. The proposal alleged Apple’s company workplace environment does not address sexual harassment claims nor does it promote the advancement of women and minority employees.

“We are deeply committed to building a more just and inclusive world and will continue to engage with a range of stakeholders as we move forward with plans to conduct a civil rights audit,” Josh Rosenstock, a spokesperson for Apple, said in a statement obtained by The Washington Post.

Meanwhile, Apple has repeatedly lobbied lawmakers to weaken bills that would implement stricter measures against forced slave labor in China. Apple attempted to weaken the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in 2020 which was a bill that would require U.S. companies to avoid using slave labor from the Xinjiang region in China.

Apple uses a substantial amount of Chinese labor for manufacturing their products, and numerous groups have criticized the tech giant for using Uyghur slave labor in its production line, The Washington Post reported.

Prior to accepting the audit, Apple met with members of the racial activist group Color of Change who pushed the tech giant to accept the legal inspection, The Washington Post reported. Apple is not legally forced to accept the terms of the audit.

“We have concerns coming out of the meeting that they believe that what they outlined in the proxy statement suffices,” deputy senior campaign director for Color of Change Johnny Mathias told The Washington Post.

Apple claimed that the company “already fulfills the stated objective” of the audit before agreeing to the terms Wednesday, according to The Washington Post.

“We take these issues seriously and respect organizations like Color of Change which do important work to advance equity,” Rosenstock told The Washington Post.

Apple did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment while Color of Change declined to provide any statements.

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