Among the various topics, like the new employee discount program, discussed at a recent all-hands Town Hall session with Apple employees was something seemingly very important to CEO Tim Cook: Charity. Unlike cofounder Steve Jobs who thought his company should focus on maximizing shareholders’ value so they can donate their own wealth, the new boss is adamant that Apple must do more on this front.
According to The Verge, the Town Hall meeting saw Cook shed more light on Apple’s charitable contributions that totaled $150 million (versus a cool $97.6 billion they had in the bank last quarter):
According to our sources, Cook said that Apple has donated a total of $50 million to Standford’s hospitals, split into $25 million for a new main building and $25 million for a new children’s hospital. Cook also spent quite a bit of time talking about Apple’s status as the leading contributor to Project RED, and expressed pride that Apple’s given over $50 million to the effort since it started.
According to Apple’s website, the Product Red initiative generated more than $180 million for the Global Fund since its inception. As 9to5Mac first reported back in September, one of the first important moves (anti-Jobsian, perhaps?) of then newly appointed CEO was a company-wide charity matching program for donations made by Apple employees up to $10,000 a year.
From Cook’s aforementioned email to troops:
Starting September 15, when you give money to a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, Apple will match your gift dollar-for-dollar, up to $10,000 annually. This program will be for full-time employees in the US at first, and we’ll expand it to other parts of the world over time.
This initiative, however, was overshadowed as an investigative New York Times article underscored cruel working conditions at Foxconn factories in China (some call them sweatshops), where Apple’s gadgets are being manufactured. Although Business for Social Responsibility disputed some of the most devastating claims, such as Apple being aware and did nothing to prevent exploitation of underage workers and suicides; Cook was so shattered that he issued a company-wide email in response to those allegations.
Re-iterating, “We care about every worker in our supply chain,” Cook further wrote he was “outraged” because “Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us.” Such interesting wording for a person famous for his low-key demeanor is an indication of just how devastating the story must have been to Apple’s new boss.
Perhaps in an effort to pre-empt the scandal, Apple let the Fair Labor Association access its suppliers’ facilities and for the first time list suppliers in its 2012 Supplier Responsibility Report. Only time will tell if the ongoing Foxconn blunder paints Apple as a greedy corporation in the public eye.
If anything, it should force the company to be more open to corporate charities, something its cofounder was always reluctant to embrace. According to the authorized Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, Jobs discouraged charity on a corporate level at Apple, even though he was a charity giver:
Jobs was notoriously stingy when it came to giving away money. He argued privately that the most philanthropic action Apple could take was to increase the value of the company so share-holders could give away their wealth to causes of their choice, not Apple’s.
- Tim Cook calls new Retail SVP John Browett ‘the best by far’ (9to5mac.com)
- Tim Cook at today’s Town Hall: Starting in June, Apple employees get $500 off Macs, $250 off iPads (9to5mac.com)
- Steve Jobs on philanthropy: increase AAPL’s value so shareholders can donate their own wealth (9to5mac.com)
- Tim Cook responds to claims of factory worker mistreatment: “We care about every worker in our supply chain” (9to5mac.com)
- Tim Cook sends congratulatory email, plans to ‘discuss some exciting new things going on at Apple’ at Town Hall meeting (9to5mac.com)
- Apple publishes 2012 Proxy Statement for investors, reveals Tim Cook earned $377 million in compensation during 2011 (9to5mac.com)