Most companies that operate internationally are involved in some form of "HUMAN RIGHTS" issues. The range of issues and the names of companies is quite lengthy, so we thought that we would provide a wonderful story about two major companies, Disney and McDonalds, that became engaged in HUMAN RIGHTS. There are more opportunties like this. This shows how investor advocates can work together to accomplish positive changes.


Situation: In 1996, heightened awareness of the use of sweatshops was brought to center stage and involved corporations such as Disney and McDonald’s that had no
idea that they were involved. The working conditions, work hours, and pay were terrible by U.S. standards. Companies did not investigate the sub-contracting or foreign contracting that the vendor employed. Many companies use sub-contractors to reduce costs. With so many intermediaries in the production chain, it is easy to neglect the worksite situation of the actual laborers. Aquinas and other socially responsible investors have worked on this issue for many years. Disney was identified as a high profile “good company” involved in the exploitation of the lower classes. Disney has an estimated 10,000 sub-contractors to monitor on this topic.

Aquinas worked with Disney management and Disney hired PriceWatershouseCoopers in 1996 to monitor vendor standards. Over the years, much of the production moved to China where human rights standards were not readily monitored. A number of social investors including members of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) of which Aquinas is a member decided to work on the situation in China.

Result: After several years of work, Project Kaliedoscope was announced and is a demonstration of systemic reform in compliance and monitoring of human
rights issues in foreign lands. Of the 100 largest economies of the world, 51 are corporations. In fact, most large corporations have the opportunity to provide major cultural change throughout the world if their management chooses to lead. Disney understands the universal appeal of their youth target market. The same is true for McDonalds which jointly markets Disney toys and videos as store promotional items. These two companies are responding to their investors to make the world a better place as this demonstration project develops successful processes and organizational changes for expansion throughout China. Over 30,000 Chinese workers are the beneficiaries.