FAIRPHONE

TOGETHER WE CAN CHANGE THE WAY PRODUCTS ARE MADE

Monday 8 June 2015, by diana1993

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

The main thing about Fairphone to know is that they care about nature and people. What the company intended to do was a totally fairly made smartphone, so from here it comes the name of the product.
The first concern of the company is how are the necessary minerals to produce the phone extracted. Each phone needs about 40 different minerals to be made and usually these are extracted from the Congo, in Africa where people are exploded and even children are working in the mines in dangerous conditions. The pollution is also another problem in the process of extracting the minerals. Fairphone uses conflict free minerals, so the company directly goes to the Democratic Republic of Congo and contributes to alternatives to current practices and tries to improve the conditions of the workers among all the production chain.
The second stage in the creation of the Fairphone is the design. Users can choose from a variety of options in order to make their phones more personal and to understand how is it made and how does it work. Fairphones have been designed in a way that all parts can be dismounted so if one of them is broken you don’t have to change your whole phone, they are made to last more than other phones and the company encourages its customers to repair them as long as they can. Moreover, there are tutorials available in order to help you to repair your own device. This way, there is a saving in wastes.
Once the phones are designed, the following step is their manufacturing. In this phase, the company intends to create beneficial relations for both the enterprise and the workers through transparent relationships between the manufacturers, safe working conditions and a fair salary.
Finally, even though as we have said Fairphones are made to last, when the phone is discarded their Take Back Program helps ensuring that old phones are recycled.

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

The Fairphone is the first smartphone that puts social values first. It contributes to a fairer economy based on social and environmental values, opening supply chains, changing production processes and improving worker welfare.
They work focusing on activities within five core areas:

Mining - Providing alternatives for miners in conflict-affected regions
Fairphone focus on Democratic Republic of Congo to buy from locals, increase employment for small-scale miners and contribute to economic development. It also increases industry and consumer awareness for the issues surrounding mining, a challenging industry in terms of sustainability, and existing alternatives. Finally, it works to improve working conditions for miners, introducing local wages, controlling child labour and reducing environmental degradation.

Design - Developing new relationships between people and their phones
They have increased their smartphones longevity, increasing repairability. In addition, they involve all stakeholders in the creations of the product, from users to suppliers and factory workers, to make transparent the design processes.

Manufacturing - Putting employee wellbeing font and center
Fairphone want to achieve lasting improvements in working conditions and employee wellbeing, increase employees’ representation and voice in decision-making processes and strengthen their ability to request, negotiate and implement improvements.

Life cycle - Taking a circular view of use, reuse and recycling
Fairphone encourages consumers to replace their phones only when they have really reached the end of their usable life. They also extend the usable life of the smartphones and incorporate features to add value for reuse and recycling, offering consumers the ability to purchase separate parts and repair the phones. In addition, they provide safe recycling programs and collect and safely recycle e-waste.
To avoid even more wasted products in the manufacturing process, Fairphones are only made when the company has an actual demand and they know how many phones they need to produce.

Social Entrepreneurship - Telling the whole story to empower consumers
Finally, Fairphone gives consumers a better understanding of where they products come from and how they are made. The company reveals every step of the process in making a phone, from materials and production to cost breakdowns.

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

We trust Fairphone because contrary to other companies, Fairphone does not say its process is perfect, they know that it is not entirely ethical and that they have still a lot more to do. They are very transparent with the whole production process. Moreover, we like this company because they do not intend to make an ethical product but an ethical way to develop it.

If we want to assess, whether Fairphone is ethical or not, we first have to define what it means to be ethical. By saying that someone or something is ethical, one can address different dimensions: social and environmental. Both require transparency. But the question arises, from what point on something can be considered as being “ethical”. Does a company need to fulfill the highest standards on their whole production and supply chain to be considered as an ethical company? Is only the slightest deviation from this standard enough to be known as unethical? Or is it the other way around, meaning that already the smallest effort gains a company the attribute ethical?
As always, we believe the answer is somewhere in between. Fairphone’s unique selling proposition is the conscious production of its smartphones. The company is very transparent, which is one of the most important parts in trying to create an ethical product. For their upcoming phone, Fairphone will also publish the cost breakdown and list of suppliers, which will make it easy to assess whether working conditions and environmental impact can be considered ethical. Furthermore, as mentioned above, Fairphone is taking several steps to produce in a socially and environmentally ethical way. They are inspecting and handpicking the mines, in which they are sourcing their tin and tantalum, and are developing a program to expand worker rights and representation. They are designing their product for a longer usage duration and are considering the full life cycle of the phone to reduce waste.
For the reason that Fairphone is producing ethical in most of their production steps and is constantly working on improving their ethical impact, Fairphone truly earns the title of being an “ethical company”.

D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

We think it should be a good idea to make an advertising campaign at TV or magazines to let the message of Fairphones reach more possible consumers. Nowadays we all use smartphones and many people could be identified with the ethical challenges of the company, but it is still very unknown.
Another suggestion is that they could go on producing other technology devices, like laptops.
we know that it is very difficult to make the whole process 100% ethical but they can little by little improving it.

Bibliography

http://www.fairphone.com/

Location: Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

Official website: http://www.fairphone.com/

Key figures:

60,000 Fairphones sold.

100% independently financed (no donations or venture capital) to preserve our social values.

Surrounded by an enthusiastic community of Fairphone owners, 84,296 Facebook fans, 18,442 Twitter followers and 43,913 newsletter subscribers.

39 employees with 20 different nationalities and 17 languages spoken.

Nbr. visits: 881