The International to not only preserve the forests

The Walt Disney Company, the place where dreams come true, was established by Walt Disney in 1923 to create animated stories, fairytales and countless lovable characters for family entertainment. Since then, Disney has expanded outside the limits of televisions and into the real world, building theme parks in countries around the world. However, as a multinational corporation (MNC) with numerous facilities set up around the globe, how sustainable is the ‘happiest place on Earth’? Sustainability is an overarching idea supported by three pillars known as the ‘pillars of sustainability’. These include economic, social and environmental sustainability. It is believed that for a company to be completely sustainable, all three pillars must be taken into consideration. When all three pillars are supported, a company can earn the title of a Benefit Corporation (“What are B Corps?”). This is a certification from B Lab, a nonprofit organisation (NGO), that ensures companies are being socially and environmentally sustainable. Disney is a highly successful company, yet manages to represent the ideals and actions of a true B Corp to a considerable extent. Disney has a website dedicated to their work for the environment and a fund called Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund where they donated money ($65 million in total) to help protect and save wildlife and their habitats. Furthermore, on their website, they mention their work with children, inspiring and teaching them about the beauty and importance of ecosystems and nature. In their theme parks, Disney claims that they have avoided incinerating and throwing 45% of rubbish collected into landfills (“Environmental Impact – Conservation Fund”). Additionally, they have partnered with Conservation International to not only preserve the forests of Peru but to help the locals in the area with their coffee growth and sales. “Since 2008, the Alto Mayo REDD+ project has generated over 6.2 million tons of emissions reductions – the equivalent of taking 1.3 million cars off the road for one year.” (Disney + Conservation International). As the environmental sustainability pillar is said to be the most important, it is vital that MNCs such as Disney work to protect ecosystems. This shows how Disney values being environmentally and socially sustainable as they actively work to inform others of the worrying situations humans and animals face and work to conserve the Earth. Following that, they give back to the community by supporting and giving to the locals in the area. In the light Disney and its partners portray themselves in, Disney fits the description of a B Corp relatively well, being both environmentally and socially sustainable. The Walt Disney Company has accomplished numerous achievements throughout the years. In 2013, Disney tied with three other MNCs for having the best Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) ranking. Having a high CSR ranking can have a positive impact on a company’s sales, influencing consumers to purchase items or services from MNCs that are more sustainable, transparent and honest. According to a Cone Communications study, 87% of consumers said they will purchase an item from a company that supports a cause they find important. On the other hand, 76% of consumers said they won’t buy an item from a company that has different views than them (Fallon). Ultimately, Disney came in third for their CSR rankings but overtook other MNCs when it came to the citizenship category (Smith). This displays how they are socially sustainable, concerning and ensuring that customers and employees are in a secure environment. Furthermore, Disney works on volunteering and encouraging children and families to help with organisations in the area. This helps the growth and the wellbeing of the community. In addition to being socially sustainable, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has “… planted three million trees in Brazil’s threatened Atlantic Forest, protected 40,000 acres of coral reef in the Bahamas, and conserved 50,000 acres of savanna wildlife corridors in Africa”. As of 2013, they have assisted 112 different countries around the world and contributed $20 million since 1995, when the foundation was first established (“The Walt Disney Company”). These statistics represent the time and effort Disney puts into protecting the environment and their beliefs on the issue. Aside from helping the environment and community from the growing issues, being sustainable promotes the company and brings more customers, a mutual benefit for all pillars of sustainability. Although it has yet to be qualified, Disney expresses the potential, dedication, and attentiveness to their customers, workers and the environment to earn a place as a B-Corp. Despite earning first place in the citizenship category in the CSR rankings, in 2010, Disneyland Paris faced issues concerning the suicide of two employee chefs. One of the cooks even etched a chilling message on the walls of his home saying, “‘Je ne veux pas retourner chez Mickey’ (I don’t want to work for Mickey anymore)” (Lichfield).  It is believed by some that the cause of these terrible incidents was due to the cut in staff numbers and the increase of workload and stress on the employees. An assistant manager of one of the hotels, Tama Gandega, even said, “‘All the pleasure of service is gone. Some days we have to do 3,500 breakfasts with half the staff we had a few years ago. No wonder everyone is ready to drop.'” (Lichfield). From this, it can be assumed that the higher ranking officials of the Disneyland parks did not ensure the safety and health of their workers. The lack of staff took a toll on the workers and negatively impacted their environment due to longer and harsher hours through a six day work program. Furthermore, ‘cast members’ or employees working in costumes often suffered from neck and back pains when wearing outfits of characters with larger heads such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. This further emphasises the lack of consideration for the workers and the difficulties many do not see through the smiles and masks of Disney’s employees. Disney’s choice in 2010 to prioritise their economic growth to their social sustainability is a major factor is holding them back from becoming a certified B-Corp. To conclude, the Walt Disney Company is seen upholding the majority of the B-Corp standards, securing and aiding wildlife and their habitats from further harm while involving the community and ensuring customers are safe. Disney excels at environmental sustainability, even though the successful company consumes and accumulates a great deal of resources and emissions. However, Disney lacks in the social sustainability department regarding their employees, preventing it from being an enlisted B-Corp that guarantees a safe place for both guests and workers. Following this, Disney is more likely to profit from having a better environment for their workers as it will not only impact their CSR reputation but if employees are more motivated to work, the outcome and performance will be superior to an unsatisfied and unmotivated employee. Therefore, to a noticeable extent, the Walt Disney Company has the potential to become a B-Corp with a few fixes in the social sustainability pillar. However, if in the recent years Disney has corrected their mistakes, they can not only continue to thrive in the sustainability rankings, but finally take the lead.