Apple, Marks and Spencer and Dell

Apple claimed social responsibility was fundamental to their ways of doing business in Apple Supplier Responsibility 2011 Progress Report. In this post, we would like to look at the CSR programs of two other mass corporations (Marks and Spencer and Dell) which have a similar claim in order to make comparisons with Apple’s program.

Marks and Spencer PlanA

PlanA was launched by Marks and Spencer in 2007. It planned to achieve 100 commitments in five years originally and then extended the project to achieve 180 commitments by 2015. The ultimate goal of the project is to make Marks and Spencer the world’s most sustainable retailer. The five pillars of PlanA are climate Change, waste, sustainable raw materials, fair partner, and health.

Content of the five pillars

Climate Change
  • Carbon neutral

Aiming to make all our UK and Republic of Ireland operations (stores, offices, warehouses, business travel and logistics) carbon neutral

  • Energy efficiency (stores)

Reducing the amount of energy we use in our stores by 25% per square foot of floor space.

  • Energy efficiency (warehouses and offices)

Achieving a 20% improvement in fuel efficiency and energy use in our warehouses and offices.

  • Business travel

Introducing a new ‘green’ business travel policy to reduce CO2 emissions caused by our travel.

  • Etc.
  • No operational waste to landfill

Aiming to ensure that M&S operations in the UK and Republic of Ireland (stores, offices and warehouses) will send no waste to landfill.

  • Food waste (reduction)

Having reduced food waste we plan to work with suppliers to improve stock planning by developing the accuracy of our systems for forecasting demand.

  • Etc.
Sustainable Raw Mater
  • Sustainable farming

Producing our fruit, vegetables, salads and meat to independent environmental standards and developing a set of sustainable farming measurements to demonstrate the environmental benefits of these standards.

  • Organic food

Tripling our sales of organic food in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

  • Pesticides (post-harvest)

Eliminating the post-harvest usage of pesticides on our fruit, vegetables and salads.

  • Etc.
Fair Partner
  • Strengthening our ethical compliance monitoring

Having introduced semi-announced assessments of our suppliers, conducted within a three-week period, we are aiming to continue to strengthen our auditing and follow-up.

  • In-country resources

Increasing the number of people based in the countries of production to follow up concerns identified by our assessment system within 12 months.

  • Etc
  • Healthier Food

We aim to maintain our position of offering at least 30% healthier food lines.

  • Labelling

Having introduced nutritional ‘traffic lights’ to relevant food products we plan to support the FSA’s trial of calorie labels on food products served in cafes and restaurants and extend the use of positive health labels to promote products with beneficial qualities such as omega-3, fibre and 5-a-day.

  • Etc.

Marks and Spencer also forms partnership with other organizations like Butterfly Conservation, Groundwork, Oxfam, WWF and etc. to co-organize programs like clothes recycling, fund-raising and etc.

Apple VS Marks and Spencer

The CSR program of Marks and Spencer are much broader and comprehensive than Apple’s. For Marks and Spencer, the concept of CSR is involved in all business level—from material sourcing to production, selling and recycling of its used products or wastes. Also, Marks and Spencer not only ensures its business brings as less harms to the environment as possible, it also actively engages in social and charity programs such as to raise fund for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Further, Marks and Spencer’s carrier bag charging introduced in 2008 has influenced many of its competitors and retailers which caused to a several “bag for life” programs.

However, Apple’s CSR program focuses only on monitoring its suppliers but not going further to expand the concept of CSR to other level of its business. What Apple do is actually quite minimal to ensure its business is not unethical, but not to take any initiatives to better the society in other areas. Also, the Foxconn suicides and the use of N-Haxane issue have raised questions among the public about whether Apple is truly ethical.

Dell: Inspired by possibility, guided by purposes

One may say Marks and Spencer’s business nature is quite different from that of Apple. So, we are now going to take a look at Dell’s corporate social responsibility programs to make a better comparison. In Dell’s Corporate Responsibility Summary Report fiscal year 2010, it is mentioned that the social responsibility work of Dell guided them balancing their needs as a business and their role to improve the lives of people around.

The social responsibility programs run by Dell are comprehensive and the results are remarkable. In 2010, there were many CSR goal achieved by Dell: there was one million children impacted by Dell’s giving of 27.4 million in total; Dell became the 2st in the industry to ban export of e-waste to developing countries; there were in total of 201,227hrs of team member volunteer services; the 1st worldwide recycling program was maintained; Dell became the first computer manufacturer to offer sustainable bamboo packaging; and etc. There are also many programs of mainly four categories (corporate responsibility, social responsibility, environmental responsibility as well as corporate accountability in progress mentioned in the report.

In “Dell by the numbers”, there are quantifiable measurements and results shown clearly in the report. For example, under “our planet”, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted and green electricity consumed is shown. It gives consumers a sense of confidence as the transparency of the CRS programs of Dell is highly transparent.

The goals of Dell for 2011 are highly ambitious. One of the goals is to drive towards zero wastes by recycling or reusing 99% of nonhazardous waste by 2012. Also, it has made desktop and laptop 25%more energy efficient compared to systems offered in May 2008. For packaging, it would eliminate 20 million pounds of packaging by 2012. For social responsibility, it would impact one million children through its giving efforts and achieve 1% of its per-tax profits charitable giving goal. Also, it will also sustain its commitment to HIV/AID prevention and treatment.

Dell VS Apple

Compared to Dell’s CSR program, Apple’s program seems to be so limited in scale and coverage. While Apple’s CSR program involves mainly suppliers monitoring, Dell goes far beyond than that. Not only do Dell’s programs minimize its business harms to the environment and people, it also betters the society by different ways such as giving young people access to education and technology and volunteering.

Is Apple doing enough?

After looking at the CSR programs of Marks and Spencer and Dell, we can see that Apple looks at it corporate social responsibility in a much narrower sense. Apple is only doing its minimum to prevent any adverse effect that otherwise may hamper its reputation and sales. However, as a corporation of sheer size, Apple can do more certainly. Its effort to support underage labor’s education is already Apple’s initiative to take more social responsibility. With its increasing market share, it is expected that Apple would receive more pressure to enhance its effort in CSR.


Marks and Spencer PlanA

Corporate Responsibility Summary Report fiscal year 2010

Apple Supplier Responsibility 2011 Progress Report


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