Disney a Most Trusted Company

disney statue

Last week I mentioned that Forbes Magazine named the Walt Disney Corporation as the world’s third most trusted company. I promised I’d elucidate the idea further. The parameters of the study, which was actually carried out by the Reputation Institute (a company which “helps corporate clients manage their images”), declared these companies the ones that “consumers like, trust, and respect the most.”

Disney, following Google and Sony, earned a global reputation score of 77.97. Unfortunately the study doesn’t specify what that’s out of; I’m assuming out of 100 but list topper Google only ranked a 78.62 so it might be out of 80.

The reasons given for Disney’s high rankings were that, “as a global entertainment company with media networks, theme parks and consumer products, the Walt Disney Co. touches people of all ages. It has succeeded in presenting itself as a trusted keeper of family and social values.”

What immediately jumps out at me in that explanation is the phrasing “succeeded in presenting itself.” I’ve been families.com’s Disney blogger for just under a year, but in that time I’ve already published several articles examining whether or not Disney truly is the bastion of family and social values it appears on the surface.

All of the companies on this list are for-profit, so obviously the bottom line for each and every one, despite their good business practices and reputations, will be how to make more money. Yet Disney, perhaps because of its supposed dedication to family values, seems like the one most wrapped up in a consumerist culture. I can buy a Disney-branded version of just about any useful or useless item under the sun.

In addition, Disney’s also a company that has ousted villagers from their homes to build a theme park, promoted a consumerist message as the true meaning of Christmas, and put massive funding behind a brand/idea that could easily teach young girls self-entitlement and harmful ideals for their futures. That’s just a few not-so-family-and-social-values I can think of that Disney promotes.

I guess the trick here is that despite all that’s revealed when we scratch the surface, Disney still looks to an indiscriminate eye like a good upstanding old-fashioned American values company. So really Forbes’ list ought to be about the companies with the best public relations departments (to be fair, isn’t good PR really what makes a company’s reputation?). And I’m sure that if I’d spent time examining the other companies on the list that I’ve spent on Disney, I’d find plenty of gripes with the reasons for their inclusion as well.

What really gets me, however, is even after looking at some reasons why Disney ought not to have top ranking on the list, I’d still put it this high. It’s a sad fact that no company, at least not one large enough to even have a global reputation at all, would possess a squeaky clean record. I’m sure the Reputation Institute and Forbes Magazine put in more research to this topic than I have, and so it’s heartening to think that maybe a company I love, despite its shortcomings, still has good reason for its high ranking on a trusted companies list.

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*(This image by dbking is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)