Shaun Rein is a fan of Steve Jobs as a leader and has both his house and office stuffed with Apple applications. But unfortunately, Steve Jobs and Apple get it very wrong, when it comes to dealing with their suppliers in China, Shaun Rein writes in Forbes.
In the drive for ever fatter margins and lower product prices, Steve Jobs and Apple have forgotten to protect the quality of life of workers at Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that manufactures products for them and other companies like Hewlett-Packard (HPQ – news – people ) and Dell (DELL – news – people ). This year alone five Foxconn workers in China have committed suicide. Last year a worker killed himself after security officers accused him of stealing a prototype of an Apple iPhone and beat him. When a Reuters journalist tried, legally, to take photos of a Foxconn factory a few months ago, security guards ran out and beat him.
Now the shortage for qualified workers is increasing in China, employers might have to sacrifice some of their margins to improve salaries and life quality of their workers. In the end, that will not hurt the bottom line, says Shaun Rein.
More ethical companies tend to be better able to retain good workers. Nike( NKE – news – people ) figured that out. It came under heavy criticism in the 1990s for conditions at the sweatshops that made Air Jordans. In response, the company made moves to improve those conditions. The result? It still makes a ton of money, and now it’s considered one of the world’s best-behaved companies.