China has long been maligned by the US for its abuse of human rights. But it hasn’t been the US government that has commanded change for Chinese workers. It’s been Apple.
And that influence is now spreading to other tech companies doing business in developing countries.
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They are realizing that the so-called easy phase of globalization is over and getting into the muck of the process will affect their bottom lines.
This past March, a meeting occurred between top executives at China’s largest private employer—Foxconn—and those at Apple.
Chinese employees have been made more comfortable while they work—vast departure from the old Chinese belief that the way to get workers to produce is to make them highly uncomfortable.
After the meeting, Foxconn agreed to shorten work days and increase wages. And the changes boomeranged back to California-based Apple, which has increased its social responsibility staff and is reevaluating its working relationships with manufacturers.
Those changes have made companies like Hewlett-Packard and Intel consider how they also must overhaul the way they work with foreign plants and workers.
The shifts in the way China works will likely transform global manufacturing, much as the iPhone transformed consumer technology. This could change the infrastructure at major global companies and also change the way they achieve profits and growth.
How deep those reforms go will determine the impact on the global manufacturing world.
Change is difficult and often unwieldy in a country as big as China.
But the long-needed reforms are taking hold at Foxconn and the tipping point of change
has apparently been reached.