Answer by Philanthropologist In-Chief:
Apple Philanthropy Sows Seeds of Change
On the heels of Tim Cook’s announcement that he’s dedicating his fortune to charity, the timing of this question is excellent. True, Steve Jobs did cut Apple’s corporate philanthropy programs, focusing instead on creating technology that would benefit people, and then passing benefits on to shareholders. Some agree, and others disagree with Jobs’s decision, but that philosophy skyrocketed Apple into becoming the global company and brand we know today.
Under CEO Tim Cook’s leadership, however, Apple’s vision of corporate social responsibility has shifted dramatically, although Apple still declines to comment publicly on the total value and extent of of its philanthropic efforts. What we do know is that hundreds of millions of dollars in philanthropic support have been directed to issues such as healthcare, poverty, AIDS, and education. Most recently, Apple dedicated a $50 million fund to support technology education for women and minorities, which included in-kind donations of technology equipment and software.
Since 2011, Apple’s corporate-employee matching program has yielded $25 million for charity. Last year, the program expanded to include employee volunteer time, which is making great impact already. Since January 2015, Apple has matched employee volunteer time at twice the normal rate ($25/hr.); for every hour an employee volunteers, Apple gives $50 to the employee’s chosen charitable organization.
Not to be overlooked is Apple’s commitment to being a socially conscious and responsible company. It’s among the leading “green tech” innovators in the industry, consistently striving to become better. Last year, Apple released this video, entitled Better, outlining its commitment to a greener, cleaner, more sustainable practice:
Energy consumption by Apple products has been reduced by 57% over the last six years. Apple boasts that its entire product line not only meets but exceeds Energy Star guidelines. Harmful toxins (mercury, lead, arsenic, PVC, BFRs, Phthalates) have been entirely eliminated from Apple products. At launch, packaging mass for iPhone-5 was reduced by 26%, which means that 60% more iPhone boxes can be packed in each airline shipping container, reducing one flight (and fuel) for every 416,667 units shipped. In March 2014, Apple sold its 500-millionth iPhone.
Apple’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint across supply, manufacturing, and distribution channels is well-known. The footprint of Apple products is measured for the life-cycle of the product, including emissions from manufacturing, transportation, use and recycling. Over 90% of the products that Apple recycles are not Apple products, meaning Apple retailers will gladly take your old phone, PC, laptop, etc. from other manufacturers to prevent it from hitting landfills.
Corporate facilities are LEED certified: 73% of all Apple facilities (including 120 US retail stores, all data centers, and 86% of the corporate campuses) are powered by renewable energy, including solar, wind, geothermal, micro-hydro systems and bio-gas fuel cells. To conserve water, Apple utilizes an irrigation system that monitors local weather conditions and soil moisture. Commitments to carbon-neutrality continue with Apple’s corporate campus in Cupertino:
Greenpeace cites Apple as the only company to achieve a Clean Energy Index of 100%. See.
Compared to other tech giants, Apple’s history with philanthropic endeavors might be meager, but under CEO Tim Cook’s leadership, that’s changing. We’ve been watching, waiting, and rooting for Apple to join its peers in big tech, leading philanthropic initiatives that bring about significant change and real world impact. It’s been a long time coming, but we believe that time is now, and look forward to what Apple plans to do next.