Today, we will be looking at the corporate culture of Walt Disney Company. Walt Disney Company has a very distinctive corporate culture. It is a culture that is deliberate and well thought out.
- When looking for a formal statement prevalent within a company, our initial direction is to search for a mission statement. Searching through the official website of Walt Disney Company, no such mission statement can be found. We can, however, find a list of commitment that the Board has pledged to (savedisney.com):
- Business Standards and Ethics - The Walt Disney Company's business and ethical standards are fundamental to how the company operates, and include workplace policies, hiring, training, business conduct guidelines, and ethical and legal standards.
- Corporate Governance - We are committed to governance policies and practices that promote thoughtful and independent representation of shareholder interests.
- Community - We are dedicated to making the dreams of families and children a reality through public service initiatives, community outreach and volunteerism in the communities where we live and work around the world.
- Disney's Environmentality - The Walt Disney Company is committed to balancing environmental stewardship with its corporate goals and operations worldwide.
- International Labor Standards - We are committed to the promotion and maintenance of responsible international labor practices in our licensing and direct sourcing operations throughout the world.
- Safety and Security - The safety of our guests and our cast members is of paramount importance to us and is evident in programs throughout the company and in our ongoing review and improvement of these programs as needed.
Slogans and Language
Walt Disney Company's terminology goes a long way in promoting its culture. Walt Disney does not have employees, they have cast members. They have a role to play in the show, not a job. They wear costumes, not uniforms. When everything is in place and working right, that is considered "good show." If something is not up to par, that is "bad show." They perform in front of an audience of guests, not a crowd of customers (Lynch).
Role Modeling, Training and Teaching
Training at Walt Disney Company is focal point of the employee hiring process. Before candidates even fill out an employment application, they are shown a video that describes what is expected of a Disney employee. Disney estimates that about 10% of the people shown this video walk out with fill out an application. Training also starts on the first day of employment. All employees are required to go through Disney University's "Disney Traditions." This program is conducted over a three-day period and has each employee spend a few hours each day watching training videos, meeting one-on-one with supervisors and participating in team-building exercises with fellow employees. From that, they graduate to specialized training session for their particular job or "role in the show. (Blassingame, 2003).
Rewards and Status Symbols
At Walt Disney Company, there is a saying, "Our goal is to treat one another the way we treat our guests." Operating under this idea, the company makes sure that all employees receive the "Disney magic" by recognizing employee excellence frequently. Employees are rewarded daily for guest service, performance, behavior and longevity. Also, employees can treat themselves to a getaway at Mickey's Retreat, an employee-only resort (Blassingame, 2003).
Stories, Legends and Myths
There are many stories, legends, and myths about Walt Disney Company. Snopes.com is an urban legends reference page compiled by David and Barbara Mikkelson. Some legends that have been verified as true are (snopes.com):
- Harlan Ellison was fired from Disney Studios for joking about an animated porn film.
- Disney forced three day care centers to remove cartoon characters painted on their walls.
Some legends that are listed as undermined are (snopes.com):
- Disneyland has been sued because children saw headless Disney characters.
- An artist painted a Nazi soldier into the background of a Disney hotel mural.
Some legends that have been verified as being false are (snopes.com):
- Walt had to agree to construct a building that could be converted to a hospital in order to obtain financing for his Burbank studio.
- Disney is offering $5,000 or a free trip to Disney World to those who help test a Microsoft "e-mail tracking program."
- Walt Disney prepared a film to be viewed by Disney executives after his death, in which he gave them all instructions about how to run their areas of the company.
- Disney is suing the U.S. Air Force over the design of a new space badge.
Critical Incidents and Crises
Walt Disney Company has had difficulties in responding to crises in the past. This is due to their heightened sensitivity to their image while still trying to maintain profitability. An example of this is its handling of "Fahrenheit 9/11," in which the company ordered its subsidiary Miramax not to distribute the film. Disney was fearful that the company would be seen as taking sides during an election year. They then stated that, "Any monetary benefit to Miramax or its parent company, The Walt Disney Company, as a result of the film's distribution will be donated to charity. (Disney.com)"
Another example of a crisis facing Walt Disney Company was when its president was killed in a helicopter crash in 1994. In this event, it is the responsibility of the board to elect a new president. Instead, they allowed Michael Eisner to select whomever he pleased. So, he selected his close friend Michael Orvitz, who had never been an executive for a publicly-owned company. Sixteen months later, he was gone with over $100 million in termination compensation (Mondaq, 2003).
Workflow and Organizational Structure
Walt Disney Company is divided into four major business segments: Studio Entertainment, Parks and Resorts, Consumer Products and Media Networks. The also have the following holdings (wikipedia.org):
- ABC Cable News
- ABC Family
- minority holdings in A&E and History Channel
- Disney Channel
- Toon Disney
- Touchstone Pictures
Walt Disney has a very distinctive culture that is very influential on American culture as a whole, but it is not until we examine the corporate culture of the company, that we really begin to understand how the company functions and operates.