Qualcomm : Controversial comments

A US-based chipmaker’s corporate website invites visitors to send questions about conflict minerals.

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The feature

Qualcomm gives extensive treatment in its website’s sustainability section to the issue of ‘conflict minerals’, one of the biggest controversies for tech and telecom multinationals. Qualcomm and others in the industry are keen to make it clear that they go to great lengths not to source minerals from mines in conflict zones in the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighbouring countries.

At the bottom of the ‘Conflict Free Minerals’ page is a large panel saying ‘Questions about conflict minerals?’ leading to a dedicated webform.

The takeaway

US companies have to provide information on whether they use conflict minerals, but most do it in an uninspired way (for more examples of how multinationals communicate online about conflict minerals see our recent column). Qualcomm’s approach - inviting questions - is an interesting idea to encourage people to make contact with the company (which appears to be part of a larger strategy on the corporate website.) Assuming that someone actually answers any queries received, it could be a useful way to deal with sceptics. We do not know how many questions come in, but simply including the invitation makes the company appear admirably transparent.

The invitation to contact the company about conflict minerals is a good complement to a comprehensive and well-designed section dealing with the controversy. The only problem is that there is an assumption that people will get to the bottom of the page – old-style right hand columns would work better, but we are not optimistic enough to expect them to make a big comeback. 

First published 21 October, 2015
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