The Walt Disney Company is a large entertainment organization that has reached a wide cultural and social footprint on consumers around the world. The Walt Disney Company has always prided itself on customer service and by giving a unique experience to its visitors and consumers. The company places great emphasis on corporate social responsibility. This is evidenced in that fact that Disney consistently ranks high on lists of companies that are socially responsible. (“CNN Money”) Disney has a comprehensive and detailed code of conduct pertaining to its directors, employees, vendors, manufacturers, and communities.
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The Walt Disney Company, as stated above, has a code a conduct that covers virtually all areas and issues relating to how employees should behave and conduct themselves. The code of conduct is very enforceable because it spells out criteria for which disciplinary action can be taken. There is a mission statement that clarifies the goals of each section of the policy and it provides details to support the goals. The code of conduct does not contain idealistic overtures; instead it clearly defines the ethical behaviors that employees should project in all manners of business matters.
The company has a corporate officer for which the ethics program is administered. It is under the umbrella of the Chief Human Resources Officer to execute ethics training and the implementation of the code of conduct. Furthermore, the company has a separate policy for its board of directors. In this way, the board of directors can serve as a model for the rest of the company. They are charged with keeping shareholders’ interest in mind while projecting honesty and high ethical behaviors. The directors are promoting an atmosphere of compliance with the code of conduct and dedication to their duties. The Walt Disney Company does have a committee that is focused on ethical questions and issues. The corporate compliance department deals with all issues encompassing ethical questions. Instead, the company promotes a culture of responsibility of all employees to report any unethical practices that they suspect. In this way, the company feels that if all employees are policing themselves and others, that any unethical issues will be reported and dealt with in a timely manner.
The Walt Disney Company believes that training in business ethics is important and vital to the reputation of the company and the sustainability of its successful operations going forward. Newly hired employees are indoctrinated with training videos and oral explanations of the policies within the code of conduct. Employees are also required to continuously grow in their understanding and practice of ethical activities. All employees are trained in the sections of the code of conduct that relate to the company’s internal responsibility to employees, customers, and stakeholders. The employees are also trained on the company’s social responsibility to communities, environment, etc.
Another major portion of the code of conduct pertains to the legal issues and standards that pertain to the company and employees. The legal sections of the code of conduct cover a broad array of issues, including; antitrust laws, securities laws, tax laws, environmental laws, food and drug laws, intellectual properties, etc. Employees are trained and indoctrinated in all facets of the legal policies in the code of conduct. The code of conduct is available for reference at any time for any employee.
The Walt Disney Company is very committed to its ethical program. It shows this by exhibiting an aura of quality in the company’s customer service and products. Disney feels that it must have a commitment to high standards and give an impression upon consumers and visitors that the Disney experience is second to none. The company also places an emphasis on guest safety. Disney wants its customers to feel they are a part of a totally safe and enjoyable environment. There is also the responsibility to cast members and employees. Disney believes it must treat its cast members with the utmost respect. By this, the company contributes to their professional development, safety, diversity, etc.
Disney’s responsibility to its shareholders is something that is not taken lightly. The company is committed to the interest of its shareholders and works vigorously to make the company profitable. There is also the question of conflicts of interest. The Walt Disney Company knows that its reputation is a key aspect to its success. In this way, the company works to present itself as a company with integrity. One major aspect that is conducive to ethical practices is that of total communication between employees and managers. Employees are encouraged to speak their minds in regards to business practices. This reduces breakdowns in communication and closes the avenues of unethical behaviors.
The corporate management audit department is a mechanism that is put into place that checks the behaviors of managers who can have an influence on any financial interest of the company. Employees or cast members can refer to the corporate management audit department to define any conflicts of interest that may arise. One deficiency in the code of conduct is that fact that employees are not encouraged to create their own ethical standards. It may be assumed that the company doesn’t want any deviation from their uniform ethical policies, though this cannot be verified. Employees can also refer to the corporate legal department for any ethical questions. For example, an employee would consult the corporate legal department to clarify that the company is not using confidential information of others in regards to business practices.
The Walt Disney Company has clearly defined guidelines pertaining to violations of ethical conduct. There is a zero tolerance policy when unethical practices are being conducted. This is not to say that employee termination will result, but the fact that there will be disciplinary action whenever unethical violations occur. There is not a mechanism that detects ethical issues but there are clear policies in place. As stated in earlier paragraphs, there are detailed sections that state the code of conduct in relation to employees, customers and society.
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The system for reporting unethical behavior is also clear and concise. An employee can contact their supervisor, human resources representative, corporate legal department, or a phone number that gives guidelines on reporting ethical violations. The enforcement of standards and punishments are appears to be uniform. Though specifics are not given, it is stated in the code of conduct that great care and thought is given when considering violations and how to administer punishment across the spectrum of employees. The company tries to exude fairness in hiring, firing, promoting, etc.
In conclusion, it is clear that the Walt Disney Company has a detailed and organized code of conduct of ethical standards. It is enforceable and gives clarity in the implementation and practice of conduct. It is also clear on how each employee should conduct him/herself in regards to promoting ethical business standards. Employees are given constant training on ethical issues and are given reference material for any questions that may arise. The Walt Disney Company takes great strides in behaving ethically in all of its business dealings. Its ethical standards are clear, concise, understandable, and enforceable.
“Worlds Most Admired Companies.” CNN Money 22 Mar 2010: n. page. Web. 17 Oct 2010. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/mostadmired/2010/full_list/
“Standards of Business Conduct.” corporate.disney.go.com. The Walt Disney Company, n.d. Web. 17 Oct 2010. http://corporate.disney.go.com/corporate/conduct_standards2
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