Toni’s recent post on CSR brought to my mind the campaign of Sacom (http://www.sacom.org.uk) against Disney. Sacom stands for ‘students against corporate mishbehaviour’ and claims that, like many other american corporations, Disney exploits chinese workers…..
My opinion is that it is very likely that chinese workers are exploited, but you do not have to go to China to find evidence of this: just walk around Via Sarpi in Milano, Italy (the Chinese neighborhood) and you’ll find tens of small laboratories where people work far beyond the limits allowed by Italian law.
But, I do not want to discuss about exploitation. I want to discuss about the Pr varnish and show you a classic corporate online camouflage operation. Let us assume for a moment that Disney in fact does not exploit anyone, and that you are the public relator called on to protect company reputation. Remember: people are happy in your licensee factories and the workplace assures good working conditions. What do you do? I would take a group of journalists and cameramen, offer them the flight and show them the truth. More: I would publish all the relevant information on my website. It is easy: the only thing you need to say is the fact that your company IS socially responsible and faith-based as it claims to be.
And now, let’s see what Disney does. Follow me: go to the Disney Internationational Labour Standards http://corporate.disney.go.com/corporate/intl_labor_standards.html. You will find a description of the program, etc. If you analyse the html of the page, you will find nothing that helps traceability: this page, as many others in the corporate section, does not have keywords or a description.
But, Disney does much more.
If you follow the link to the Code of Conduct for Manufacturers http://corporate.disney.go.com/corporate/conduct_manufacturers.html, you’ll find a very interesting page, whose main feature is that the code of conduct is shown as an image rather than as a text. This is a smart trick because search engines are not capable of understanding the content of an image.The result is that this page is “invisible” and the pdf file is also invisible as it contains the same image. Only a text rendered as image: no logo, no signature, no names of people to contact. It is also “anonymous”.
What’s your impression?
Mine is that Disney does not wish this code of conduct to be found or to be distributed. Why? Read it! It is pure varnish: it is all about what is legal and what is not.
But would those legal conditions be acceptable in a Western country?