The new era of social and technological development has made it clear to everybody that the problems the world is currently facing can only be addressed by uniting the efforts of all the social actors. In this regard, during the recent two decades, more and more companies around the globe have sought to become more socially and environmentally responsible. The Walt Disney Company is also among those firms that actively integrate corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy into their overall development plan since 2008 (The Walt Disney Company, n.d.).
As such, the organization exhibits tremendous efforts in both environmental stewardship and the impact on the lives of local communities. As for the former, the company intends to reduce the harmful effects of its operations on natural surroundings by minimizing the CO2 emission levels, carbon-intensive electricity consumption, and generation of production waste. As for the latter, the organization aims at increasing the well-being of its workers and community members with an emphasis on the groups that are in need of help the most.
Additionally, the company promotes a healthy lifestyle, including eating healthy food and doing sports through different channels, creates educational opportunities for kids, supports people with disabilities, makes regular donations, and seeks to educate voters. Despite being involved in all these activities, however, the firm’s primary concern has been addressing the inequality issues and advocating greater diversity and inclusivity (Shilpika, 2021). That encompasses a bigger share of employees and managers who belong to the minority groups and releasing the content where various social groups are represented equally. As a result of all these efforts, the Walt Disney Company was ranked as the fifth most socially responsible company in the world by Forbes (Valet, 2019).
To further reveal the company’s devotion to CSR, its 2020 report published in February 2021 will be analyzed (The Walt Disney Company, 2021). In particular, it will be researched whether and how Disney uses comparative data to present the information. Moreover, the current paper will elaborate on the main reason why the firm’s strategy is successful.
The Company’s CSR Report
The Walt Disney Company provides a thorough report of its CSR activities each financial year. The main part of the report is usually descriptive and equally integrates the statistical numbers and accomplished project titles discussions. Yet, mostly it serves as the way to communicate to readers the firm’s priorities in CSR in more detail, including the vision for the future of the community and motivations and reasons to be responsible. Additionally, although the main part includes elaboration concerning whether and why the CSR goals were or were not met, it mostly lacks any form of comparison with the former years. Nevertheless, such data is provided later in the form of a table that summarizes and contrasts the company’s various activities between the current and two previous years and in different countries.
The first important piece of data that the Walt Disney Company reveals is how its impact on the environment changed during the previous three years. In this respect, the three categories are reported, namely emissions, energy and water consumption, and waste production. Firstly, it is seen that the company’s direct and indirect emissions in 2020 were significantly lower than in 2018 and 2019. For instance, the firm’s direct emissions were equal to 897,432 metric tons in 2018, 856,619 metric tons in 2019, and 597,067 metric tons in 2020. In a similar vein, the total energy consumption during the last reported year was lower than in the previous year by approximately 1 million MWh, while water usage reduced from 6.53 to 4.99 billion gallons.
Finally, the total operational waste also fell by 100,000 tons in 2020 compared to both 2018 and 2019 and was equal to 152,048 tons. Such big differences in the numbers of the year 2020 with 2019 and 2018 are not surprising, though, as the company generally experienced a reduction in its operations and production due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, despite the company providing information regarding previous financial years, it is generally hard to tell whether it became more environmentally friendly.
The pandemic also significantly disrupted the organization’s charity efforts, as the report reveals. As such, corporate cash giving fell from 103 million U.S. dollars in 2019 to $80.4 million in 2020. Moreover, the total hours of the company’s volunteers’ work reduced from 612 thousand hours in 2019 to 321.7 in 2020. On the other hand, the Covid-19 situation in the world did not have a negative effect on the Walt Disney Company’s CSR initiatives towards its employees. For example, the corporation could further increase the percentage of workers and managers who belong to minority groups. Their rate increased by 2% and 1% in 2020 compared to 2019 accordingly. Additionally, in 2020 the company reported having 80% of workers employed full time, whereas a year before that number equaled 74%. Thus, unlike with the environmental stewardship, it is possible to argue that the Walt Disney Company made more efforts in 2020 to support its workers than during previous years.
Supply Chain is the only subgroup of the firm’s CSR activities where the comparison not only between different years but also among various countries is available. For instance, the company reports that the country that has the most manufacturing facilities that produce the company branded goods are located in China (11,640 factories), followed by Japan (8,050) and the U.S. (5,470). Furthermore, the data reveals that the number of manufacturers increased almost in every country except Brazil, the United Kingdom, and France.
Important Lesson to Learn
Previous analysis revealed in how many areas the Walt Disney Company seeks to be responsible. However, one may question what exactly determines the firm’s success in applying CSR principles in practice. According to Wisneski (2020), a key behind the company’s effective CSR strategy is its desire to satisfy the needs of all the important stakeholders involved. For this reason, the leaders of the firm can balance various activities in order to achieve the results that would satisfy the biggest number of people. As a consequence, the Walt Disney Company evolves and changes to address the latest issues in society.
Overall, the current paper analyzed how the Walt Disney Company reports its CSR activity to the public. It was found that the firm primarily uses descriptive language in the main part of the document to communicate its vision, goals, and motivations to be socially responsible. Additionally, at the end of the report, the data is presented in comparison with two previous years. As a result, it was seen how the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the company’s CSR activities, except those directed on the workforce development and increase in diversity and inclusivity. Moreover, cross-country information was provided concerning the number of facilities that produce Disney-branded goods. Finally, the main reason that helped to ensure the leading position of the company in the sphere of CSR was found to be its desire to satisfy the needs of all its stakeholders.
Shilpika. (2021). Ever-evolving CSR strategy | The Walt Disney Company | Part 1. The Strategy Story. Web.
Valet, V. (2019). The world’s most reputable companies for corporate responsibility 2019. Forbes. Web.
The Walt Disney Company. (2021). 2020 corporate social responsibility report. Web.
The Walt Disney Company. (n.d.). Reporting. Web.
Wisneski, K. (2020). The Walt Disney Company and corporate social responsibility. Honors Projects, 1-66. Web.