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Critical Evaluation Of Walt Disney Company Corporate Social Responsibility And Business Ethics


Task: Students are required to provide a written constructive criticism or judgement on a given topic by
the lecturer. The assessment includes the following key components:
1. Conduct literature review around the business ethics and corporate social responsibility of
small or multinational businesses.
2. Critically evaluate the ethics and corporate social responsibility practices of the case
organisation selected by the lecturer.
3. Analyse the ethics issues and utilise the relevant theories (e.g. Decision Making Model,
Stakeholder Theory) to improve decision making for the chosen organisation.


The concept of Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility (CSR) and business ethics explored in the proposed study has gained immense popularity among the businesses as a result of growing sense of its benefits. Both the terms are often used interchangeably but there is difference between the two. The term business ethics is concerned with the standards and moral principles which guide the behaviour of the corporates in the business world while, Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility can be referred to as an integrative management concept which performs the function of establishing a responsible behaviour within the corporation, its competencies and values, goals and the interests of the stakeholders.

This report provides a literature review on business ethics and CSR of multinational business and critically evaluates such practices in case of Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility. Furthermore, it analyses the ethics issues and utilizes the relevant theories for improving the decision making for Disney.

Literature Review on Business Ethics and CSR of Multinational Businesses
Overview of Concept of Business Ethics and Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility
As per the views of Adda, Azigwe and Awuni (2016), ethics are the codes of principles and values that are meant for governing the acts of an individual or group of individuals about what is correct and what is incorrect. It is therefore, argued that standards are set by ethics which define what is good or bad in the context of business decision making or behavior. It is further identified that being ethical in a business setting indicates that an organization applies the principles of fairness and honesty to the connections with customers and coworkers.

Crane, Matten and Spence (2019) stated that increasing demands are being faced by the companies to look beyond their own interests and start considering the interests of the societies in which they conduct their operations. It is further provided that the companies have responsibilities towards the society as well which should be taken into consideration along with the objective of making profits for the shareholders. Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility has been defined in the form of a business system that allows generating and distributing capital for the benefit of stakeholders by implementing and integrating sustainable management practices and ethical systems.

Business Ethics and CSR in case of Multinational Business
Multinational organizations are the businesses that conduct their operations in various countries at the same time. It is argued by Strand, Freeman and Hockerts (2015) that business ethics take on added dimensions when an organization becomes a multinational organization. The standards for ethical behaviour vary in different nations and therefore, the companies are required to evaluate the values of their home country against the necessity to show acceptance and tolerance of practices in foreign countries where they operate. It is difficult for the multinational corporations to come up with single set of universal values and therefore, they are often found to adopt practices that are operable in the marketplace across the globe.

Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility

It is often argued by Preuss, Barkemeyer and Glavas (2016) that the major step taken by the multinational organizations in the area of Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility is the protection of environment. They take the responsibility to honour the environment of both home and host country to the greatest extent possible even when they are not required to do so by the local laws. According to Attig, et. al. (2016) it is not necessary that they suffer from fines in case where they ignore the environment; however, they may suffer from a public relations crisis if they do not consider the interest of the society. The analysis also provides that the multinational corporations often engage themselves in the philanthropic activities and take the responsibility of spreading the social initiatives undertaken by them to the host countries where they conduct their business. For example, Google undertakes its corporate social responsibility towards the environment by constructing competent data centres, sustainable workplaces, accelerating conversion to carbon- free energy, and structuring improved services and devices with the help of technology that ensures a heathier and cleaner future for the generations to come (Google, 2020).

Trevino and Nelson (2016) stated that multinational corporations, as a part of their business ethics, often honour the local traditions and respect the human rights of their workers. It is further identified that a multinationals has an obligation to accept and not embrace the customs and traditions of the foreign countries. The health, safety and well- being of the workers of the multinational organizations should also be their prime consideration irrespective of the country where they are employed. It is further argued that multinational corporations must also take due steps for maintaining equality among their diverse workforce.

Critical Evaluation of the Ethics and CSR Practices of Disney
Background of The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company is a multinational entertainment and mass media company from America and is headquartered in Burbank, California. The company was established by Roy O. Disney and Walt Disney in the year 1923. Disney is a reputable organization and is considered to be a forerunner in the animation industry of America and has also diversified into television, live- action film production and theme parks. The mission of this organization is to inform, entertain and inspire the individuals across the globe with the help of the power of supreme storytelling, innovative minds, reflecting the iconic brands and new technologies which has made it the best entertainment company in the world (Disney, 2020).

Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility

Ethics and Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility Practices
The analysis provides that Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility shows commitment towards the protection of the planet and delivers a positive environmental legacy for the generations to come. It is also identified that the company is further expanding its environmental commitment by aiming the reduction of plastic waste along with eliminating the plastic stirrers and plastic straws at all locations in the world where the company operates. This is expected to lead to the reduction of more than 13 million stirrers and 175 million straws on an annual basis. Disney Conservation Fund has also granted $ 6 million for the purpose of supporting the environment and wildlife. Moreover, the analysis provides that Disney has provided approximately $ 86 million in grants for the protection of nature and the communities across the world till date (Disney, 2020).

Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility also gives due importance to diversity and inclusion at the workplace and aims at the creation of authentic and unforgettable experiences for its employees around the world. It is found that the company has earned top marks on the 2020 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) for its corporate practices and policies regarding LGBTQ workplace equality. It is further argued that the company is a leader in promoting equality at the workplace which includes proper support for the transition of the employees and fostering leader training on inclusion of LGBTQ and LGBTQ business employee resource groups (Disney, 2020).

The evaluation also provides that $ 338.2 million has been granted as donations by Disney in cash and in kind to various non- profit organizations that aim at bringing inspiration, comfort and opportunity to the families, kids and communities across the world. The company is also aiming at the creation of personal moments and immersive experiences that can provide inspiration and comfort to the children that are facing serious illness. Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility is also committed to providing opportunity and inspiration to the future generation of storytellers and innovators. This is being done with the help of transformative programming through which Disney is assisting today’s youth in the development of skills required for the creation of the futures they imagine (Disney, 2020).

The analysis also provides that Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility conducts its business according to highest standards of business ethics along with ensuring the compliance with the applicable rules, laws and regulations. Compliance training is also provided by the company to all its cast members and employees who include training relating to company’s standards of ethics and business conduct. As a part of its business ethics, the company is also found to ensure that it complies with its policy of providing equals opportunity to all the applicants for employment and employees without giving any regard to color, religion, race, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, etc. It is further identified that Disney prohibits its employees from harassing any person, guest or other employees while conducting the business operations for any reason (The Walt Disney Company, 2020).

Analysis of Ethics Issues and Utilizing Theories for Improving Decision Making for Disney
Ethical Issues in The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company believes that a company becomes a good corporate citizen when it acts in an ethical manner and shows due respect for the human rights. The business ethics policy of the company clearly defines that it aims to provide equal opportunity to all the employees, however, considering Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility, the company is found to face ethics related issues in case of its employees. The company has been charged by an employee for harassment and religious discrimination as she was not allowed to undertake her religious practices as it was not in compliance with the Disney ‘look’ and therefore, was fired. Similarly, a lawsuit has also been filed against the company due to the reason of age discrimination where the company decided to eliminate his position and promoted a younger employee to the similar position. Moreover, racial discrimination charges have also been filed against the company where the employees charged that the company makes the use of software that selects only the resumes of the white employees on the basis of naming conventions (Bononi, Law Group, 2020).

Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility

Use of Relevant Theories for Improving Decision Making
The rational decision making model will play an important role in case of Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility for improving the decision making in case of ethical issues. This model consists of four steps which deals with recognition of the problem, creation of alternative resolutions, selection of a resolution and then its application and assessment. This model provides that the main purpose of decision making is the achievement of a certain goa (Halpern and Stern, 2018). Therefore, through the application of the rational decision making model, Disney can improve its decision making in case of ethical issues for reaching the ultimate goal of providing fair treatment to all its employees. Disney can select the alternatives that can satisfy the achievement of the set goal and offer the best solution to its employees. Therefore, instead of firing the employee, Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility could have placed the employee in alternative work where she is not required to present herself in the Disney ‘look’.

Miles (2017) provides that the stakeholder theory addresses the morals, business ethics and values while managing the stakeholders involved in the organization. The stakeholders in case of an organization include employees, investors, managers, society, owners, media, government, suppliers, etc. There are various ethical benefits of the application of this theory as it increases the mental health of the employees and increases their level of job satisfaction. The application of the stakeholder theory in case of The Walt Disney Company provides that since that company views the employees as an important stakeholder, then it should consider the organization- employee relationship as the organization- stakeholder relationship and these issues should be given prime important under stakeholder management. The decision making can be improved by Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility by following a proper procedure for investigation and taking appropriate action against the wrongdoer. This theory will assist the companies in respecting the employees as an important stakeholder of the organization who puts their best efforts for the benefit of the organization.

Therefore, it can be concluded that the organizations are increasingly giving importance to the concept of Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility and business ethics due to the various benefits offered by it. The literature review provided that the multinational corporations undertake various CSR and philanthropic activities for the protection of the environment and the benefit of the society where it operates. Furthermore, it honours the local traditions and respect the human rights of their workers as a part of the business ethics.

The report focused on Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility and provided that the company grants huge amounts for the protection of wildlife and environment and gives due importance to diversity, inclusion and equal opportunities to the employees at the workplace. However, the company is found to face ethical issues in respect of discrimination among the employees. The application of Rational Decision Making Model and Stakeholder Theory can improve the decision making of the company.

Adda, G., Azigwe, J.B. and Awuni, A.R. 2016. Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility for Business Success And Growth. European Journal of Business and Innovation Research, 4(6). pp. 26-42.

Attig, N., Boubakri, N., El Ghoul, S. and Guedhami, O., 2016. Firm internationalization and corporate social responsibility. Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility Journal of Business Ethics, 134(2), pp.171-197.

Bononi, Law Group. 2020. Employment Practices At Walt Disney Company, [Online]. Available from,discrimination%20to%20poverty%2Dlevel%20wages. [Accessed 13 March 2020].

Crane, A., Matten, D. and Spence, L. eds., 2019. Corporate social responsibility: Readings and cases in a global context. Routledge.

Disney. 2020. ABOUT THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY, [Online]. Available from [Accessed 13 March 2020].

Google. 2020. Sustainability, [Online]. Available from [Accessed 13 March 2020].

Halpern, J.J. and Stern, R.C. eds., 2018. Debating rationality: Nonrational aspects of organizational decision making. Cornell University Press.

Miles, S., 2017. Stakeholder theory classification: A theoretical and empirical evaluation of definitions. Journal of Business Ethics, 142(3), pp.437-459.

Preuss, L., Barkemeyer, R. and Glavas, A., 2016. Corporate social responsibility in developing country multinationals: Identifying company and country-level influences. Business Ethics Quarterly, 26(3), pp.347-378.

Strand, R., Freeman, R.E. and Hockerts, K., 2015. Corporate social responsibility and sustainability in Scandinavia: An overview. Walt Disney company corporate social responsibility Journal of Business Ethics, 127(1), pp.1-15.

The Walt Disney Company. 2020. BUSINESS AND ETHICS STANDARDS,

[Online]. Available from [Accessed 13 March 2020].

Trevino, L.K. and Nelson, K.A., 2016. Managing business ethics: Straight talk about how to do it right. John Wiley & Sons.


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