One of the reasons I applied for an internship in Project coordinator department at Walt Disney Company is because I felt there is an enormous opportunity to develop my entrepreneurship skills, leadership skill, and to learn to work in a diverse environment. Disney is one of the largest media and entertainment conglomerates in the world, and the most profitable in the world. In a recent survey, Disney was reported to have received more than 27 million people in the California Park alone, generating the company more than $3 billion in revenues (Dreier et al. 2). In 2018, the total company’s profit was $9 billion, not including the $1.6b tax break it received that year alone (Sanders). The company is treated with respect because of its magical experiences promoted in its resorts. It advertises its parks as the “happiest place on earth.” However, for thousands of employee working here, this is not the happiest place to work. This company offers an excellent opportunity for growth for an intern, which is why I felt this is an amazing place to work. However, I have realized that employees here are facing numerous challenges. In particular, there are high instances of homelessness, low wages, and other work challenges reported every year. People often overlook this issue because the company is treated with respect; therefore, it is difficult to imagine or believe mistreating or underpaying its employees. Customers are happy for the experiences they get from the company, but the firm does not encourage them to be more innovative through compensation.
Although there is national attention to minimum wage, with advocates pushing companies to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, employees at Disney are receiving less than this wage rate. Most workers at Disney who are earning less than $12 hours will have to make their end meet (Dreier et al. 3). Anyone who has visited California in the last two years has probably noticed the profound homelessness crisis. A steep increase in housing costs in southern California is apparent, which means that with less than minimum wage, people cannot afford a place to live. Dreier et al. notes that one out of 10 Disney employee falls under this category, or at least have reported homeless or ‘couch surfed’ in families or friends’ apartment for the last two years (54). ‘Couch surfing’ is clearly not something anyone who is working 40 or more an hours should consider. However, this is an unfortunate reality for Disney employees; most of them have a hard time paying their rent, and some often end homeless. The wage most employees receive in Disney resorts in California does not align with the housing costs, and therefore, most employees find themselves in unwarranted situations. They are afraid that of eviction since they cannot afford rent and some find themselves without a permanent place to live. Besides, those who cannot afford decent housing near the resort are forced to rent homes a long way from the resort. Thus they have to take long commuting time to get to work.
The issue of homelessness is a problem that Walt Disney Company needs to address to motivate its employee. Otherwise, most of its employees will end up doing the mindless task without an inner drive for innovation, thus drastically affecting the experiences offered in its parks. By paying employee less than the minimum age, the company will reduce the dignity of the employees. As a result, many workers will eventually dent the company corporate image or dignity. Essentially, this is why the issue of homelessness as a result of low pay is important to Walt Disney Company. As indicated above, the company is one of the most profitable firms in the world; therefore, it should be more generous to the employees. It should compensate them more than the minimum wage to increase their satisfaction. Furthermore, when employees are satisfied, they are more dedicated to their work and can offer a better Disney experience to customers, resulting in more profits for the company.
Unfortunately, the issue of low compensation at Disney is not unique. The Federal Reserve recently reported that more than 40% of the Americans do not have enough disposable income to pay unexpected expenses or prescription drugs, childcare, and housing (Larrimore et al. 12). Every company needs to take care of its suppliers, customers, and the local community, but more importantly, for their employee. However, this is not the case for Disney and many other corporations in the U.S. As such, the company is destroying the social fabric of the country. While many companies are not ready for corporate social responsibility (CSR), such a policy, though seemingly unprofitable, is intended to create societal benefits for the community. In any case, the primary social responsibility to business is to engage in activities that increase its profits. However, profit maximization should follow the basic rule of society and customary ethical practices. A company such as Disney can still pay the employee more than the minimum wage, and stil, be profitable. One of the most valuable assets for any given company is that it is the social image or it is a brand. The image that the company has to the public determines its survival and productivity. Therefore, investing in CRS should not be considered as a cost that reduces profit, but as a source of more revenue.
Disney themes parks and resorts promise to offer superior services to create an imaginary world where people can escape the real world. However, to effectively do this, the company needs to motivate its employees. Numerous strategies can be used to achieve this goal, but better compensation and can create a more energetic, enthusiast, people-loving employees who are ready to serve the guest whole-heartedly. Eventually, the company will benefit because customers will be more satisfied, and will be willing to pay more for the experiences. The company should understand the true values of retaining productive employees and offer a solution. Since homelessness is one of the main problems for the employee, Disney should provide shelters for their employees. Corporate responsibility is about considering the community. Thus, providing shelters to employee increases their purchasing power, which translates to more sales in businesses and communities where workers live. The company profits are enormous; therefore, it can afford to pay workers to live in decent housing or implement housing programs for its employees and the community. The ruthless capitalism seen in many large companies in the U.S and other parts of the world is not a model that should be embraced. If a person works more than 40 hours in a week, he or she should not be allowed to live on the streets, or shelters or ‘couch surfing’ to family’s homes.
Dreier, Peter, and Daniel Flaming. “Working for the Mouse: A Survey of Disneyland Resort Employees.” Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, 2018. https://economicrt.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/ERt-Disneyland-final-2-20-2018.pdf
Larrimore, Jeff, Sam Dodini, and Logan Thomas. “Report on the economic well-being of US households in 2017.” Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 2018. https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/files/2017-report-economic-well-being-us-households-201805.pdf
Sanders, Bernie. “Disneyland workers face ruthless exploitation. Their fight is our fight”. The Guardian, 7 June 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/07/disneyland-workers-living-wage-disney-inequality
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