Time For A Code Of Ethics For America’s Multi-National Corporations?

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Neflix, Inc. and Walt Disney Co. are American multi-national corporations that are presently under fire for displaying a disconcerting lack of respect for American values.

The streaming service Netflix is showcasing a French film, Cuties, that hyper-sexualizes prepubescent girls in erotic dance scenes. Netflix withdrew a graphic poster marketing the film. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, has called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the film for child pornography.

Meanwhile, Disney, that prototypical family entity, is under fire for ignoring human rights in China.

In the credits of Mulan, Disney’s $200 million action movie, Disney thanks eight government entities who allowed some of the film’s scenes to be shot in the Xinjiang province, where China is said to be detaining Uighur Muslims in “re-education camps.”

Why are these American corporations seemingly tone deaf to American values?

It is surely not coincidental that the majority stakeholders in both Disney and Netflix are investment management firms where profit is king.

American corporations typically adopt corporate ethics to govern their own employees behavior but are silent about the corporation’s conduct in the international community. Possibly it is time to adopt ethical standards that govern America’s multi-national corporations?

The mission of the Vanguard Group, Inc., which is a top stakeholder in both Netflix  and Disney, is to give investors “the best chance for investment success.” But does Vanguard have a responsibility to insure that the companies it invests in do no harm?

According to CNN, institutional investors hold a majority ownership of NFLX through the 81.96% of the outstanding shares that they control. The top Netflix stake holders are:

  • Capital Research & Management, 7.74%
  • The Vanguard Group, Inc., with a 7.23% stake.
  • Fidelity Management & Research Cop., 4.82% stake
  • T. Rowe Price Assoc. Inc., 4.68% stake
  • BlackRock Fund Advisors, 4.44% stake .

According to CNN, institutional investors hold 64.96% of outstanding shares in Walt Disney Co. The top stake holders are:

  • The Vanguard Group, Inc., 7.76% stake.
  • BlackRock Fund Advisors, 4.39% stake.
  • SSgA Funds Management, Inc., 4.19% stake.
  • State Farm Investment Management, 2.11% stake.
  • Geode Capital Management, 1.44%.

The Vanugard Group is based in Malvern, PA, and manages about $6.2 trillion in global assets while BlackRock, Inc., based in New York City, is the world’s largest asset manager, with $7.4 trillion in assets under management.

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