WALKING OUT ON DISNEY

I am passionate about public relations, specifically interested in public affairs. I chose to write my dissertation from the perspective of public affairs professionals, and how they can help lobby and pressurize governmental bodies to improve and toughen laws to eradicate modern slavery(the research question) so all of this made my ears perk up, interested to see how companies handle a crisis and how they communicate.

Disney surprised internauts and their own LGBTQIA+ employees with news that the company made ‘’donations to the Republican legislators behind Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill’’(Vulture). It led their employees to organize walkouts to protest Disney’s involvement in the bill. I wrote my Ethics essay on them and they made the impression to be a company who works hard on being progressive, future-forward, yet this donation is contradictive, like Disney’s many other past actions.

Image credit @pamcakieehttps://twitter.com/pamcakiee/status/1506314754218131457

Disney’s own LGBTQIA+ staff must be feeling disappointed by this bill and CEO Bob Chapek, who apologized to them after a whole week of protesting, but what do apologies mean? Especially when Disney as a whole was supposed to condemn the bill not support it, knowing they have LGBTQIA+ staff. In response to Los Angeles Times, I think Bob would love to be considered/remembered as Disney’s ‘’full blown Mouse Messiah’’(I found that super hilarious) but love to see that it was Chapek’s predecessor Bob Iger who tweeted about the bill.

But Disney and its Board of Directors have bigger fish to fry because four Disney employees were arrested by Florida police as part of an undercover mission to expose a human trafficking ring, a retired judge was arrested and over 100 arrests were made(by the many articles it is mentioned in) I can say it was a success.

It wasn’t disclosed who did what in the human trafficking ring(understandable) just that four individuals were child predators and one was acted a human trafficker. The four Disney employees allegedly were placed on unpaid leave(Deseret News) which is unreal. In light of the P&O sackings in the UK, I reckon Disney’s HR would like to see the evidence provided by the Police of their involvement before firing them.  

What do you think of Disney’s employees protesting “Don’t Say Gay” bill? You can visit the Twitter account dedicated to the employee walkout here.

IT’S NOT MANAGING, IT’S ENGAGING AND INFLUENCING: STAKEHOLDERS

Stakeholders, as the name suggests, have a stake, or interest in a company and its activities, they could be individuals or groups of individuals. Stakeholders, to have and to hold, till conflicts do us part. Even then, we should always show up with their favorite flowers and chocolate, (preferably outside their offices), to try dissolve the argument to get on common ground, because Mike Clayton said it(he worded it differently). Discovered today(Monday when I started writing) that we have R. Edward Freeman to thank for writing Strategic Management: A stakeholder approach in 1983 which made the term ‘’stakeholder’’ popular and Mike Clayton mentioned in his book ‘’The influence agenda’’ that Stakeholder Theory took off as a discipline.

I was thinking of the relationship between The Walt Disney Company widely known as Disney, its  stakeholders and their suppliers. I found on Instagram that Disney owes their manufacturing supplier factory Industrias Florenzi located in El Salvador, Central America, who sewed scrubs for Grey’s Anatomy for 15+ years, just about 1.3 million USD in unpaid wages since the pandemic started. In Year 2, I had a brilliant professor called Robert Dalton who taught us how to create a stakeholder map and roughly how to find annual reports, so my first thought was to look for these documents for Disney, because I was sure they made billions.

Yes, they did. The numbers are staggering, but for their size as a brand, it’s probably just like counting Cinderella dresses in the shop. Speaking of which, the revenues for Europe stand at 7,3 bn(Fiscal year 2020 Annual Financial Report), 16.5 bn. globally in Parks, Experiences and Products segment, with a global revenue of 65,39 bn, as seen on Statista(see references). In their Suppliers Document, they say they ‘’work with our suppliers to receive electronic payment via ACH(direct deposit)’’ clearly not received by Industrias Florenzi workers due to fraud. Disney is asked to #PayYourWokers by the @CleanClothesCampaign account on Instagram, who can be seen as an activist group highlighting the issues we don’t otherwise see or hear companies talk about.

Like Mr. Clayton mentioned in his video giving 5 tips for Project Managers on how to engage with stakeholders, stakeholders aren’t to be managed but rather to be engaged with and who can be influenced through leading by example, building trust which leads to credibility, which then inspires confidence in the company. Disney could revolutionize the game by paying up their workers now. The amount owed is just a small cheque compared to how much they earn worldwide even during the pandemic. Everything was quiet on the Disney front, while they quietly furloughed thousands of workers in 2020. Thinking about it, haven’t seen any of my favorite tv and film personalities react to all this.

In 2021, Disney can start to engage with all of us Beauty and the Beast lovers(the live action for my generation) by admitting what they’ve done and enabled is wrong, be willing to take steps towards mending the situation, they might as well pay in full, so that the petals won’t all fall off the rose. Even better if they would ensure that their workers are treated fairly going forward, that they have a decent living wage, a pension for all who work for them (inside and outside of the USA), as the pandemic showed the true face of capitalism. Why is decency too much to ask? This should not be about annual reports looking pretty, it should be about making sure people who work for you don’t go hungry. For dignity. The world would look different today if more and more Public Affairs practitioners would pressurize governmental bodies to toughen the laws to make it impossible for companies from continuing to behave like this. For dignity.

REFERENCES

Anon., 2021. 2020 Annual Report and Form 10K. Viewed [10/21/2021]. Available from: https://www.annualreports.com/Company/walt-disney-co

Clayton, Mike, 2014. The influence agenda – A systematic approach to align stakeholders in times of change. 1st ed. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, pp 6-9.

Clayton, Mike, 2019.  Stakeholder Engagement Tips: 5 Tips For Project Managers. Viewed [10/24/2021]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APc9S_8v7YY&ab_channel=OnlinePMCourses-MikeClayton

Clean Clothes Campaign, 2021. Disney robbed Industrias Florenzi workers of $1.3 million. Viewed [10/12/2021]. Available from: https://www.instagram.com/p/CVYJj_Os9Gj/

José Gabriel Navarro, 2021. Global revenue of the Walt Disney Company 2006-2020. Statista. Viewed [10.26/2021]. Available from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/273555/global-revenue-of-the-walt-disney-company/

Julia Stoll, 2021. Revenue of the Walt Disney Company in 2020, by operating segment. Statista. Viewed [10.26/2021]. Available from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/193140/revenue-of-the-walt-disney-company-by-operating-segment/

The Walt Disney Company, n.d. Suppliers. Viewed [10/21/2021]. Available from: https://thewaltdisneycompany.com/app/uploads/2020/03/Suppliers-Document-2.20.pdf