Corporate Social Responsibility – The Walt Disney Company

In this essay I am going to simplify and illustrate what is corporate social responsibility (CSR), and explain its six core characteristics. I will simplify each core characteristics and critically evaluate if these core characteristics are present in the selected corporation or not. In my essay I am going to look inside to a corporation that is well-known and most admired by the individuals in the whole world. The corporation that I am going to use is ‘Walt Disney’. I am going to look inside the corporation to find and explain what core characteristics they are have. I will explain what Walt Disney Corporation is about and provide examples of company CSR practices related to the core characteristics.

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Two Tomorrows, 2013 states that ‘Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is about how businesses align their values and behaviour with the expectations and needs of stakeholders- not just customers and investors, but also employees, suppliers, communities, regulators, special interest groups and society as a whole’ (Beal, BD 2013). This means that business needs to think about all the society and set their values and nature of business depending on the needs of the society and have ethical business practices. CSR highlights the importance of behaving, communicating and performing ethical practices to the companies (Beal. BD, 2013).

Corporate social responsibility is not just for larger companies

(Gough, O 2017)

The Walt Disney Company

(Muncy, J 2018)

What is Walt Disney Company?

“The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise with the following business segments: media networks, parks, experiences and consumer products, studio entrainment, direct-to-consumer and international” (The Walt Disney Company,2017).

I chose Walt Disney as an example in order to identify corporate social responsibility characters, it’s important to know the company very well and to understand its history and current situation. I explained briefly about the Walt Disney in which I will explain what it is, when it was established and why it’s famous. The Walt Disney was founded in 1923. Disney became the origin in the development of animation. It gave a chance to introduce animated movies, cartoons and other entertaining things that provide happiness, entertainment to people.

The most popular and very first animation film ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ was released on 21 December 1937 (Disney, 2018). They were founders of animated film, which expanded throughout the world. It expanded its branches throughout the world and became one of the famous animations and entertainment industries in the history that even well- established and famous entertainment animations like ABC, Pixar “fall under the Disney umbrella” which means Disney oversees everything and has high authority and power.

Disney, 2018

Core Characteristics of Corporate Social Responsibility

(Salau, G 2015)

CSR consist of six core characteristics that are important in CSR practice. Six characteristics of CSR are explained below:


Voluntary is a core characteristic that all CSR practices need to follow, and which is acted beyond the law and their regulations. This is a self-regulated activity which a business needs to use to carry on the work. As Davis (1973, P. 313) argued that CSR “begins where the law ends” (Alhammadi. A, 2018).This means that all the tasks and activities that a corporation/company carries out are beyond the governmental and law structure as they do not participate in the activities. Protecting all the stakeholders within or outside the company/business. Disney aims to provide well-being and happiness to the families by providing them a healthier and stronger living fun. In 2014, Disney gave nearly $87 million in cash donations to non-profit organisations and schools to serve the people and families to give better lifestyle to them (Just Give, 2015).They give attention to increase knowledge and promote education by donating millions of books to children in need, so they can read them and encourage them as in a blog ‘Just Give’ told that “donating 18 million books to organisations for children in need and encouraging story telling was their goal and by the end of 2014, Disney donated more than 23 million books in two years (Just Give, 2015).

Child labour is one of the major issues that are happening in various businesses now a days. Disney leaders and volunteers help children by spending time with them who are in hospital by visiting them and funding for their needs. They provide funds and gifts to children in hospitals along with guests like Mickey, Pluto, Donald and Goofy and engage with the children by playing interesting activities (The Walt Disney Company, 2018). However, on the other hand Disney was declared to be responsible for child labour in 2010. In Independent News Report, Hickman. M, 2010 stated that Disney world in China made children work for 76 hours a week. Children were forced to work more than normal hours without any human rights and work safety regulations. They were pressured to work hard to fulfil the target and in return they were not treated fairly and were given unhealthy and unhygienic and harmful food which was covered with cockroaches (Hickman. M, 2010).

Internalising/Managing Externalities

“Externalities are the positive and negative side-effects of economic behaviour that are born by others but are not taken into account in firm’s decision-making process and are not included in the market price for goods and services” Andrew, C., Dirk, M., & Laura J., S. (2014). It is about how businesses impact their community and external society. Examples for Externalities can be pollution, unfair negative Human rights in the workplace for workers and carbon emissions. Businesses need to use externalities to reduce the carbon emissions, manage human rights for their workers in the workplace and reduce pollution by adopting different strategies and using technology and techniques in order to prevent pollution because it impacts the workers, local community’s health (Crane, A., Matten, D., & Spencer, L.,2014).

Now a days our world is being affected by threats of pollution and issues. There is less growth on planet of organic food which is leading to emissions of toxic gases that are damaging our environment and ecosystem seriously. In order to overcome these issues, we all need to work as a team and use natural sources and other precautionary measures that can reduce threatening and toxic emission of gases. In order to resolve this issues Disney took step forward and decided to follow long-term goal which includes zero net greenhouse gas emissions, zero waste and conserve water resources. They adopted the externalities by setting out strategies to achieve their goals by avoiding emissions, reducing emissions through efficiencies, replacing high-carbon fuel with low-carbon method, they converted the guest transportation bus fleet to renewable diesel made from used cooking oil and on-consumable food waste decrease the fleet’s emission in half (The Walt Disney Company,2017). Disney claims that due to carbon reduction projects, they prevented the release of 3.5 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent in the period between 2012-2017, to help meet our emissions reduction objective (The Walt Disney Company, 2017).

Practices and Values

Practices and values in CSR are mainly about the practices and values of businesses that help them to solve social issues, it can also be related to the term ‘Values’ of the business as well. These are values and strategies that a business must follow to deal with corporate social and environmental issues (Crane, A., Matten, D., & Spencer, L., 2008). Mission Statement of Disney statement is “to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.” (Disney, 2018).


“CSR has tended to emphatically claim that ‘real’ CSR is about more than just philanthropy and community giving, but about how the entire operations of the firm- i.e. its core business functions-impact upon society” (Crane, A., Matten, D., & Spencer, L.,2014). This gives an understanding about the real earnings of philanthropy in CSR practices. It just not involves helping people/community in need, but also can be how the business operates in their HR management, how they treat employees, how they help communities not just by donating money, but in other different ways and how the activities can impact or can be beneficial to the society. In 2017 According to Disney CSR report made $348.6 million in charitable contribution and donations which was used to run different community programs, activities that would have a positive impact on the society. They also support non-profit organisations and delivering support and help to the affected areas during natural disasters in 2017. Disney not only made donations, but they also helped the students by providing them scholarships (The Walt Disney Company, 2017). They launched a campaign collaborating with the National Recreation and Park Association on Meet Me at the Park, where 16 communities’ park projects $20,000 grants to connect kids with nature and make aware about the importance of nature, why need to keep it healthy and safe, promoting healthy living and provide access to sports (The Walt Disney Company, 2017).

Alignment of Social and Economic Responsibilities

“This balancing of different stakeholder interests leads to a fourth facet. While CSR may be about going beyond a narrow focus on shareholders and profitability” (Crane, A., Matten, D., & Spencer, L., 2014). This means that it is about the profits a business gain by following ethical, economic and social responsibilities. There is another key word that can be related “self-interest”. It is generally about how a company or corporation can financially benefit themselves by being ethically and socially responsible. For example, if corporation donates or participate in charities and raise funds, then how they financially themselves by running these activities like funds, charities and donations or if they go green then how it help them economically. Walt Disney Company decided to go green and cut down on their gas emissions and from 2012 they reduced net emissions by 41% (The Walt Disney Company, 2017). Reducing gas emissions by using Energy-efficient lighting and using upgraded heating and cooling-system, helped them to save electricity, which in result had a reduction of about 100 million kWh of electricity and 1milllion therms of natural gas. This helped them to reduce ion cost and increase their profits by benefiting the community, society and the environment and themselves as well (Allen. P, 2005).

Multiple Stakeholder Orientation

“Corporations rely on various other constituencies” (Crane, A., Matten, D., & Spencer, L. 2008).It’s important that when a business is setting up their goals, aims, objectives and responsibilities, they need to take into account all the stakeholders and respect each stakeholders value and beliefs and rights. CSR takes in account various stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, suppliers, customers, local communities and consumers that can have both positive or negative impact on business and the environment. Disney supports its employees by giving rewards and bonuses.

Recently in television Business News ‘CNBC’ it was issued that Disney is going to give bonuses to its employees and help them to increase their knowledge about the working environment and business and boost their confidence by sharpening their skills. In order to carry this project they have invested about $50 million into a new employee education program. CEO Bob Iger states “We are directing approximately $125 million to our cast members and employees across the country and making higher education more accessible with the launch of this new program” (Sheetz. M, 2018). The employees can have an access to higher education or training to improve their skills and build knowledge and confidence. Disney is working hard to improve their working environment for their employees by giving bonuses and higher education and training facilities, however, but on the other side of the book there are some negative aspects as well. In a survey conducted on behalf of a group of unions by Occidental College and the Economic Roundtable organisation in which more than 17,000 Disneyland employees were invited to take part in the survey which can help to identify how Disneyland is working on employees’ rights (Passy. J, 2018). According to the survey, “Nearly three quarters of 5,000 Disneyland Resort full- and part-time employees who took a survey that they didn’t make enough money to pay for basic expenses each month” (Passy. J, 2018).


It is important that a business adopt CSR practices as it helps them to understand the working environment and improve their business reputation economically and socially. I learned about Walt Disney in detail and found that they support their employees, they help them to promote their employees by providing them scholarships for higher education in order to have a better life and good skills. They also care for their social communities and people around them as they cut down on gas emissions and reduced pollution through it by reducing toxic gases that could cause health issues to the community. They also run different charities and help people in need they mainly focus on children to give them a better life and improve their lifestyle. Walt Disney also focuses on donating and funding those in need and they also run different volunteer activities that help the people feel at home and enjoy each activity and improving their knowledge and skills.


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