Apple's under unprecedented pressure as it prepares iPhone 13 launch

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Apple is facing waves of employee activism over sexual harassment and other toxic workplace issues.

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Cher Scarlett is a senior-level software engineer who initially learned programming by reading code in the websites of her choice. Scarlett was hired for Apple about a year and a half ago, but she’s been doing a lot more than coding for the past few months. She conducted an internal employee compensation survey, attempted to publicize worker complaints, and helped CEO Tim Cook draft an open letter criticizing working conditions. Now he and a growing group of people are at the center of one of Apple’s biggest calculations about how it treats its employees and whether it lives up to the ideals of diversity, inclusion and tolerance that Cook and his officers agree.

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Scarlett is part of a growing movement called #AppleToo, which is designed to change the culture of Apple. Many of them believe that there is a downside to Apple’s revered and often exemplary approach to extreme privacy. Apple created world-changing devices, including the iPod and iPhone, by silencing teams and teaching them to never reveal their work — even to their partners. But critics say the 45-year-old company, co-founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976, also created an environment where people are afraid to blow the whistle on bad behavior, including sexual harassment, pay discrimination and other hostile work conditions. .

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“Cultures that heavily reward loyalty create this perfect storm, where you’re expected to ‘keep it in the family,'” Scarlett said in an interview this month. He and other current and former Apple employees have turned to social media To share the frustration about the company culture. On Medium, Scarlett’s published stories of some of his co-workers Regarding sexual harassment, assault and casteism which the management ignored. “We have some really bad actors taking advantage of us to prey on the weak. We need change. We need it right now,” An anonymous employee wrote in a post published in Scarlett.

Employees aren’t the only ones taking Apple to work. Lawmakers, regulators, competitors and activists around the world are influencing Cook and company from many angles, including new laws, investigations, antitrust trials and letter-writing campaigns. In every case, they are pushing Apple to change fundamental business practices. This pressure, coming on multiple fronts and from inside and out, underscores that even Apple, with its hordes of loyal fans, is not immune from the backlash facing the tech industry. It’s one of many giants, including Amazon, Google, and Facebook, as more people begin to question how much power and influence they hold on our lives.

Carolina MilaneseAn analyst at Creative Strategies said the scrutiny has been due to how deeply technology is woven into modern life and how some companies abuse that power. “This is the time we are in,” she said. “We are more aware.”

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Google has seen hundreds of employees make their protest public.

While Facebook, Google and Amazon have had their share of conflicts over the years, including employee protests and government investigations into their business practices, it is unusual for Apple to face so much public scrutiny at once.

Until recently, Apple seemed above the fray. But even a company with tremendous power and a coveted mantra like “Think Different” can only escape so much.

Now the $2.4 trillion company is under the microscope like never before. And this is happening during a once-in-a-century pandemic and economic devastation. And as Apple is about to start selling the iPhone 13, it’s the most important product of the year.

Apple declined to discuss individual employee matters, citing the privacy of anyone involved. “We are always committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement. “We take all concerns seriously and we conduct a thorough investigation whenever a concern is raised.”

amazing turmoil

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Apple employees have pushed back on the company’s return-to-office plans.

The activism facing Apple now seems to have its roots traced Slack Back to Instant Messaging. As The Nerdshala, CNN and The New York Times have reported, the corporate-focused app Salesforce bought last year for about $28 billion broke down the walls of communication between the various teams at Apple. were soon employees Attracting responses from across the company As they designed for people in a certain location to discuss issues or talk about remote work in group chats.

Ashley Gojovic, a former senior engineering program manager, said her conflict with the company began when she raised concerns about workplace safety, which also led to issues of workplace harassment and discrimination. She said Apple retaliated against her, and so she turned to coworkers on Slack in July.

“I’ve lost faith in them,” Gjovic said of Apple’s human resources and employee resources teams. Soon, she said colleagues were sharing their experiences, too.

Gojovic was not alone. Some groups of Apple employees had already started organizing on Slack, Twitter, Discord and other places to discuss the issues and start asking for changes in the company’s work culture. Group letters to the management were also leaked to the press. One of the letters leaked at the beginning of the year in May criticized the hiring of Antonio García-Martinez, a former Facebook product manager at Apple, who wrote a book in which he described women in the San Francisco Bay Area as “soft and vulnerable.” , Quoted”. And despite his claims of worldliness, and generally full of nonsense.” Apple distanced himself from him in response.

Then employees began to stress Apple’s efforts to require employees to have fewer days in the office as it prepares to reopen with the easing of the pandemic. Apple’s plans have since been postponed to next year.

Earlier this month, a group of employees published an open letter to Cook and the company’s senior leadership, asking the tech giant to improve behavior with its 160,000 employees and “Fulfill your promise of inclusion, diversity and equality

In the letter, the group asked for increased privacy on personal information; transparent and fair compensation; Audit of all relationships with other companies; Increased accountability in leadership and HR teams; and a process of sharing the concerns of the group. The letter also calls on Apple to re-examine all reports of “racism, discrimination, abuse, harassment, substantive activity suppression and retaliation.”

He published the letter on his website, appletoo, an indirect reference to the #MeToo movement that gained traction following revelations of sexual harassment and assault Former Hollywood filmmaker Harvey Weinstein defames. Scarlett has become the public face of AppleToo; Gojovic tweeted that Although he is not specifically affiliated with the group, she supports his effort.

Scarlett and Gojovic have filed separate complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, which confirmed it is investigating. Gojovic also received approval by California and US civil rights agencies to sue. Scarlett currently works for Apple as a software engineer, but the company fired Gjovik earlier this month for allegedly leaking confidential product-related information, According to Gizmodo and Bloomberg, reportedly saying that she also failed to cooperate during the “investigation process”. (Gjovic previously said that he didn’t know the details He was accused of disclosing “confidential information”.)

These complaints result in weeks, months or “much longer, as the NLRB says on its site.

under pressure

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Apple CEO Tim Cook has been grilled on Capitol Hill by lawmakers and the judge overseeing an antitrust trial.

While Apple faces pressure from employees, it is also embroiling itself in legal proceedings and political debates at home and abroad. In South Korea, the legislature passed a law attempting to force changes to restrictions imposed by Apple and Google on their App Stores, including a rule that additional purchases made inside an app are processed by companies. Is performed. Epic Games, makers of the hit online battle title fortnitealso sued Apple over its App Store, arguing that it should reverse rules preventing external App Stores or disapproved apps from running on iPhones or iPads. Epic largely lost the court battle in the September 10 decision, though it is appealing the decision.

Activists and advocates have also begun to pressure the company over privacy concerns. Earlier this year, thousands of signed open letters prompted Apple to abandon new technology designed to fight child abuse — features they worry could be turned into a tool for mass surveillance. Is. (Apple this month decided to delay the release of that technology, a move that infuriated child safety advocates, without giving a new deadline.)

In the meantime, Apple continues to pump out new products, announcing an update IPAD MINI, Apple Watch Series 7 and iPhone 13 during an overwhelming 80-minute video presentation last week. In his review of the iPhone 13, Nerdshala’s Patrick Holland said that Apple “offers a delightful upgrade,” particularly praising the cameras and battery life.

Analysts expect the smartphone to lead the company’s lineup, selling around 82 million units during the holiday shopping season, according to AB Bernstein analyst Tony Sacconaghi. It will sell in line with Apple’s record last year after releasing the iPhone 12.

Cook introduces new products at its September 14 event…

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