Disney’s Stakeholders & Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy

Disney corporate social responsibility, stakeholder management, corporate citizenship, sustainability, parks resorts business management case study analysis
Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom, in the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The Walt Disney Company’s corporate social responsibility strategy involves environmental programs and community support initiatives to satisfy stakeholders’ interests in the media and entertainment, and parks and resorts business. (Photo: Public Domain)

The Walt Disney Company’s corporate social responsibility strategy supports and manages the expectations of stakeholders of the mass media, entertainment, theme parks and resorts, consumer goods, and retail conglomerate. On the surface, the company’s CSR strategy is all about the natural environment and support for solutions to community and societal issues. However, Disney’s corporate citizenship goals are interlinked with the strategic objectives of the company’s different businesses. For example, environmental impact policies ensure business sustainability and related stakeholder interests, while also supporting Disneyland operations in terms of maintaining the amusement parks and resorts’ greenery and natural balance. In this way, such corporate responsibility efforts also directly enable the effective implementation of Disney’s generic competitive strategy and intensive growth strategies. This multifaceted CSR approach helps the company compete against other firms, including Sony, Viacom, Time Warner, and Comcast (parent company of Universal Studios). Disney’s corporate social responsibility strategy and associated initiatives and programs are part of an overall strategic positioning that benefits the entire organization, including subsidiaries like Marvel Studios and Pixar Animation Studios.

As a major player in the international theme parks and resorts, and media and entertainment industries, The Walt Disney Company successfully addresses and manages stakeholders’ demands. The company’s overarching corporate citizenship approach is holistic in satisfying stakeholders interests as well as the operational effectiveness and financial objectives of the business. In this way, the corporate social responsibility strategy ensures an ethical Disney that profits from providing valuable entertainment products and experiences to customers worldwide.

Components of Disney’s Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy

Disney groups its corporate social responsibility efforts into two: Environment and Philanthropy. These CSR groups address two main concerns of the media and entertainment company’s stakeholders: environmental impact and community impact. Thus, in general, Disney’s corporate citizenship is two-pronged. However, an examination of the specific programs and initiatives contained in the CSR strategy shows that the company’s approach is multi-faceted and holistic in considering the conglomerate’s operations and stakeholders. The main components of The Walt Disney Company’s corporate social responsibility strategy are:

  1. Environmental Stewardship (Environment)
  2. Conservation Fund (Environment)
  3. Charitable Giving (Philanthropy)
  4. Volunteering (Philanthropy)

Environmental Stewardship. This component of Disney’s corporate citizenship efforts addresses stakeholders’ interests about the environmental impact of the company’s business operations. For example, as part of this CSR component, some of the main strategic objectives are waste diversion, emission reduction, and water conservation. Waste diversion programs aim to reuse and recycle materials from Disney’s operations, such as in amusement parks and resorts, to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. Thus, environmental stewardship makes the corporate social responsibility strategy enhance the sustainability and greening of the global business, with the natural environment as a stakeholder in business ethics considerations in Disney’s strategic management.

Conservation Fund. Disney’s Conservation Fund extends corporate social responsibility initiatives to stakeholders and parties that are not necessarily directly impacted by the media and entertainment, parks and resorts, and consumer goods and retail business. This CSR strategy component involves programs for saving wildlife, protecting the planet, and facilitating community involvement. For example, through the Conservation Fund, the media and entertainment conglomerate financially supports and cooperates with conservation organizations for the purpose of improving the populations of endangered or at-risk species. In addition, The Walt Disney Company has corporate citizenship programs that encourage and enable communities to participate in greening and sustainability activities via nonprofit organizations. The corporation also promotes environmental conservation literacy in this manner, along with related literacy programs included in its theme parks and resorts operations. This corporate social responsibility strategic component expresses Disney’s interests in managing and satisfying communities as stakeholders of the multinational business.

Charitable Giving. Also under the philanthropic thrust of its corporate citizenship strategy, Disney engages in charity work as part of efforts to fulfill its corporate social responsibilities. For example, funds and materials are provided to nonprofits for a variety of purposes, thereby helping support individuals and communities, while also drawing potential customers to the company’s amusement parks, resorts, movies, and other products. Charitable giving reinforces the strategic strengths identified in the SWOT analysis of The Walt Disney Company. This part of the company’s CSR efforts supports the interests of various stakeholders, such as conservationists concerned about the environmental impact of Disneyland operations, depending on the nonprofit organization involved, as well as the company’s current leadership focus.

Volunteering. Disney allocates some of its human resource time to support its corporate social responsibility strategy. This part of the strategy focuses on solutions to problems of interest to stakeholders, such as through the volunteer action of artists and engineers to support skills development among the youth. The success of volunteering relies on the effectiveness of Disney’s corporate culture in instilling the right mindset that explores corporate citizenship opportunities beyond those that the business operations influence. This CSR component facilitates the diffusion of sustainability, business ethics, and other aims to stakeholder groups around the world. Along with charitable giving, volunteering has the added effect of enhancing The Walt Disney Company’s marketing mix (4P) effectiveness via public relations.

Disney’s CSR Effectiveness: Stakeholders’ Interests, Business Strategies

Disney’s corporate citizenship activities address sustainable and green operations, community development, environmental conservation, and other endeavors through environmental programs and philanthropic initiatives. For example, the company’s corporate social responsibility programs are designed to satisfy stakeholders’ interests regarding the environmental impact of amusement park operations. The ecological issues and interests identified in the PESTEL/PESTLE analysis of The Walt Disney Company are partly dealt with through the corporate social responsibility programs and initiatives that directly or indirectly tackle environmental problems. These CSR components manage stakeholders’ expectations and, consequently, customers’ perception about the media and entertainment, parks and resorts, and consumer goods and retail conglomerate. Successful corporate social responsibility strategic implementation contributes to the satisfaction of Disney’s corporate mission and vision statements by promoting the business to a larger global population of customers and other stakeholders.