Walt Disney. An Ethical Corporation?

Walt Disney
Disney - image captured by Marc Levin

PCA Design Management students got the chance to visit the Walt Disney headquarters in Paris to discuss the ethical issues it tackles and responds to on a daily basis. Here’s what they learned:

How does Walt Disney promote good working conditions when employing suppliers from all over the world?

As you can imagine, Disney needs to employ third party manufacturers and suppliers all over the world to supply the products so many people enjoy. Because of this, it needs to ensure employees are well treated by following the correct protocol and certifying that sub-contractors are not hired by third parties. Disney has established a strict policy against child labour, forced labour and poor working conditions which it monitors by conducting unannounced audits. It has also created an anonymous phone line which employees can use to report unethical practices in the workplace. Disney also ensures it does not impose unrealistic deadlines on its suppliers so as to lessen pressure on production.

To top this off, Disney does not work with manufacturers in countries that violate its ethics code. This meant that it terminated its manufacturing contracts in Bangladesh costing Disney around 250 million dollars.

How does Disney decide who to collaborate with?

As one of the biggest and most influential entertainment corporations in the world, Disney needs to go through a careful selection process before partnering with other organisations. As healthy living is high on the Disney values priority list, it created a «Tous en forme » (all in shape) program aiming to promote healthy living amongst families with young children. In 2006, Disney ended its partnership with McDonalds in an effort to distance itself from fast food and the child obesity discourse. Since then, it has established partnerships with food companies such as Danone, Volvic and Evian promoting water as opposed to fizzy drinks. As a family friendly corporation, Disney says that it has a responsibility towards parents who have allowed their children to enjoy its productions.

How does Disney market its value for healthy living?

Disney has many ethical productions on the market at the moment. The «Tous en forme » program and the new girl empowerment films are just some examples of this. In order to maximize the impact of these products, Disney must ensure it runs successful marketing campaigns. Its social media channels are very successful, however, what intrigued us was how it uses its characters to promote a healthy sustainable way of life. It was fun seeing the characters we all know and love promoting real life ideals and healthy products!

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