Are corporations people? I ask the question somewhat facetiously, but not without a serious point to make. The question has been brought up many times over in recent months, due both to campaign-trail comments and Supreme Court decisions. I won’t venture an answer here, but I will say that—regardless of whether Apple counts as a person—I do think the company has a soul.
Some people are only now starting to realize that, I think. Recently, there have been numerous reports about Lisa Jackson, the former head of the EPA who was hired by Apple about a year ago and tasked with heading the company’s environmental endeavors. Jackson and her team have just released—under the Apple banner—a huge new report on the environment, on energy consumption and our overall carbon footprint. It’s proven to be a substantial piece of scholarship, particularly among those who study climate change.
Maybe this comes as a surprise to you. It shouldn’t. I spent 22 years at Apple, and find this to be perfectly consistent with the company’s ethos. Apple has always been a forward-thinking company—in terms of LGBT rights, in terms of environmental issues, you name it.
Apple has always been sensitive to the issue of the climate, in particular—and I think it has something to do with the company’s relative longevity. A lot of today’s bigger names in technology—even Facebook—are fairly new companies. Apple has been around since the 1970s. It has seen and been through a lot. As such, the company is invested in the notion of sustainability; it’s not just looking to the present moment, but considering the future. Apple is here for the long haul, which really mandates some kind of interest in climate change.
So here, Apple has proven that it stands for something—that it not only has a soul, but that it has values. And it hasn’t just given lip service to “going green.” Apple has hired a credible expert to bring a scientific thrust to its environmental efforts. It remains committed to good stewardship of its resources—but then, that’s always been true of Apple.