Often times our smartphones are our lifelines, containing everything from vacation photos to important work emails. What is commonly overlooked by us consumers are the work and material that goes into producing our favorite technology. Shockingly, for something as compact as a phone, the production consists of questionable work ethics from Africa to Asia and each one contains roughly 40 different minerals.
Smartphones aren’t the only issue though. Our everyday technological necessities can be a part of a dangerous cycle, but socially responsible companies and organizations are on the rise to combat these issues.
The Android powered phone addresses the components that make up smartphones through identifying transparent sources of gold, sourcing tungsten from conflict-free exports out of Rwanda, tin from conflict-free exports out of the Democratic Republic of Congo and tantalum from conflict-free exports by working with Solutions for Hope.
“Solutions for Hope …supports companies, civil society organizations, and governments working together to responsibly source minerals from regions experiencing conflict where market access is limited by opaque supply chains.”
Fairphone is also very transparent with stakeholders when it comes to their product and company. This day and age consumers are becoming more and more conscious about where their favorite products come from, and companies that prove to be socially and ethically fair are advancing ahead of those who aren’t. Fairphone focuses on social entrepreneurship by maintaining strong relationships with consumers, showing where the materials come from and revealing what goes into manufacturing the product.
Apple’s socially responsible promise
As one of the top tech companies, Apple has recently promised a supply chain audit for conflict minerals. Working towards this goal since 2010, Apple has yet to completely achieve 100%, but guarantees that all mineral suppliers are now subjected to third-party audits.
What has taken Apple six plus years to achieve this? Apple Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Williams explained that by re-routing the supply chain and moving away from the conflict issues of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, specifically violent militia groups, Apple could have been successful many years ago, but that’s not what they wanted to do. Apple is pushing to make a difference in the world and how tech companies handle their supply chains.
Sephen D’Esposito, president of Resolve (an organization working towards creating solutions for social and environmental issues), further explained this concept by saying that manufacturers “should be working with suppliers to improve whatever conditions are happening because a de facto embargo would have negative consequences and undercut the effort to create a transparent supply chain”.
The fight for ethical technology production has clearly just begun and is far from being won. As consumers and companies both become equally as aware, these issues will continue to be solved promoting fairness among all stakeholders.
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