A year-long global project on improving working conditions in factories making Disney-branded products around the world has successfully trained 201 managers from 115 licensee companies that in turn contract some 2,447 factories.

The joint initiative between The Walt Disney Company, Better Work (a joint programme of the UN’s International Labour Organization) and the International Finance Corporation (a member World Bank Group) kicked off last year.

Its goal was to increase awareness among supply chain intermediaries of how to improve working conditions and boost competitiveness.

The training took place in local languages across seven cities – Paris, London, Los Angeles, Jakarta, Mexico City, Bogotá and New York – and centred on themes such as labour law compliance, worker engagement, and promoting effective worker-management dialogue.

The curriculum builds on Better Work’s on-the-ground experience in garment factories across four continents, working with global brands, governments, employers and workers to address the root causes of labour law violations and promote lasting change.

A recent study demonstrated the programme significantly improved worker pay, decreased the gender pay gap and reduced the incidence of abusive practices in factories, while increasing firm profitability by up to 25% and indirectly creating health and education benefits for workers’ families and communities.

The interactive training Better Work developed for Disney licensees is unique because it doesn’t focus on training either Disney or factories directly. Instead, the training targets intermediaries in the supply chain who then make products with Disney trademarks.

The training focuses on how to make improvements in factories proactively rather than responding to problems once they have occurred.

“This partnership provided us with an unparalleled opportunity to scale what we know works,” explained Tara Rangarajan, Better Work’s global operations manager. “Collaborating with companies like The Walt Disney Company allows us to promote better working conditions and better business well beyond the countries and industries where we have a direct presence.”

The Walt Disney Company is the world’s largest consumer products licensor and holds agreements with more than 7,000 companies to source and produce merchandise featuring its well-known characters, including everything from toys and T-shirts, to apps, books and console games.

In addition to the licensee capacity building initiative, The Walt Disney Company’s partnership with Better Work includes training government inspectors to better enforce labour laws, as well as training for factories on how to develop management systems that support improved working conditions.

Over the coming two years, this support will continue with additional in-depth support for government, employer and worker representatives, enabling them to work together more effectively to promote sustainable change.