[On Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, where he was interviewed on stage by Bill Shope, Goldman Sachs's IT hardware analyst. Here's an edited transcript of what Cook had to say on a variety of topics, ranging from working conditions at Apple's Chinese suppliers to Apple's culture and ethos.]
On working conditions in China
The first thing that I would want everyone to know is that Apple takes working conditions very, very seriously, and we have for a very long time. Whether workers are in Europe or in Asia or in the United States, we care about every worker. I spent a lot of time in factories, personally, and not just as an executive. I worked in a paper mill in Alabama and an aluminum plant in Virginia. Many of our top managers and executives visit factories on a regular basis and we have hundreds of employees that are based there full-time. So we are very closely connected to the production process and we understand worker conditions at a very granular level.
Now, I realize that the supply chain is complex and I'm sure that you realize this. And the issues surrounding it can be complex, but our commitment is very, very simple: We believe that every worker has the right to a fair and safe work environment, free of discrimination, where they can earn competitive wages and they can voice their concerns freely. And Apple suppliers must live up to this to do business with Apple.
We also believe that education is the great equalizer, and that if people are provided the skills and knowledge, that they can improve their lives. We put a lot of effort into providing educational resources for workers throughout our supply chain. We provide free classes in many of the locations in our supply chain, and we partner with local colleges to provide courses like English, and entrepreneurship, and computer skills, and the like.
More than 60,000 employees have attended these classes, which is pretty amazing when you think about it. If you could take all of these employees and move them to one location, it would be a campus population larger than Arizona State, which is the largest public university in the United States.
Many of these workers go on to earn associate's degrees. So this is a very powerful stepping stone for people looking to advance their careers and their lives. In terms of problems that we are working to fix, you can read the details on our website. But I would tell you that no one in our industry is doing more to improve working conditions than Apple.
Sign up for MIS Asia eNewsletters.