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The Walt Disney Company was founded by the Disney brothers Walt and Roy in 1923. It is known as the leading animation industry in America; however, it has diversified into live film production, theatre, radio and online media (The Walt Disney Company, 2011). Disney owns ABC broadcasting television network, Disney channel, and ABC family among others.

The company has mainly focused on children programs such as Mickey Mouse, snow white and the seven dwarfs. In addition, the company consists of four divisions, namely, Walt Disney studios, parks, and resorts, Disney consumer products that include toys and clothing, and media networks, which consists of internet and television services.

By the end of 2010, the company’s net income was $7,586 million. The company has managed to maintain sustainability over the years, maintaining its productivity, and providing quality entertainment to families around the world. What is Disney’s secret? This paper will critically discuss the steps taken by Disney to operationilize sustainability, giving future recommendations as well.

Disney’s economic analysis

Sustainability in an organization is influenced by certain sustainability strategies; these strategies drive the organization towards long-run profitability, while providing the organization with competitive advantage opportunities. Competitive advantage can be attained via cost leadership and product/service differentiation. Walt Disney, being the largest media and entertainment company globally, has ensured that it remains at a competitive advantage; it has maintained its high levels of profits.

According to Hart & Milstein (2003, p.56), a sustainable enterprise is one that contributes towards sustainable development via delivering economic, environmental, and social benefits. Disney makes wise decisions concerning the resources and capabilities that they should acquire, invest in and develop. Housley (2003, p.2) explains that, Disney’s success can be attributed to its creativity and innovation, and in addition, a unique culture that is hardly imitable.

Disney also enjoys legal protection, which makes it impossible for its competitors to imitate their services (Housley, 2003, p.3). Disney world’s choice of location is advantageous, situated inside the park, thus contributing to family eating in Disney’s restaurants and purchasing their products, which are of high value. The parks provide a chance for families to meet their favorite Disney characters, an experience that increases the demand for books, videos, and television broadcast.

According to Bellet (2004, p.2), Disney’s assets and activities complement each other including its culture, characters, and brand, making it impossible for a competitor to imitate. In an attempt to maintain its sustainability Disney has resulted to financial saving, which involves a sound stage re-use program, whereby, old materials are donated to schools for re-use, contributing to $500,000 and reducing disposable fees by $110,000 (The Walt Disney Company, 2011).

Social analysis

A message of the Disney’s CEO, Robert Iger, to the stakeholders towards the end of 2010 indicated that the company is still geared towards creating ethical activities that consider the consequences of the company’s decisions on human beings and the environment (Corporate citizenship report, 2010). The company also aims at inspiring employees and communities towards creating a positive change globally. In addition, the company’s focus has been its commitment to the communities and its employees.

The company respects human rights through its activities, labor conditions, workplace practices, and its role in promoting the well-being of children (Disney’s human rights, 2010). In addition, Disney’s policies are against child labor, discrimination at the place of work, and unsafe practices.

Therefore, the company is geared towards ethical and responsible practices, and therefore respecting and promoting human rights. Nevertheless, employee unions are present in Disney, as they protect the interest of employees, ensuring that the needs of employees are taken care of. According to mouse planet (2008), the employee union took its demonstration to the streets, as a result of a contract dispute.

Environmental analysis

Walt Disney can be said to be an environment friendly organization. According to HP eco-solutions (2010), the company has managed to identify environmental responsibility via printing solutions that use technology. This aims at promoting green standards by managing printing needs as well as environmental needs, which reduced over 18% energy use and over 407, 000 lbs of carbon dioxide within 3years. Indeed, environmental sustainability is vital, since it involves the natural resources required by human beings.

Disney has shown a great commitment to the environment; it has in the past been named in the 100 most sustainable companies by the world economic forum. Its involvement in cutting emissions aims at cutting the emissions by half come 2012, and in addition, reduction of electricity by 10%. Disney’s harvest program distributes 50,000 pounds of food to the second harvest food bank. Used cooking oil at the Walt Disney world resort is recycled to bio fuel inclusive of other products used by other companies.

Leftovers from their animal kingdom are used in the creation of fertilizer. The company also has a cleaning policy, which was launched with the aim of reducing environmental impact of its cleaning products. This is made possible by the use of chemicals that protect health and the environment (Disney sustainability, 2010).nevertheless, Disney monitors the use of energy and water in its resort; wastewater is reclaimed and used for irrigation.

The Disney wildlife conservation fund assists in the protection of the endangered species globally via projects from over 160 organizations in 100 countries (Disney sustainability, 2010). The company also encourages tree planting, which has led to over 500,000 trees plantation. Disney’s environmental goals include zero waste, zero gas emissions from fuels and electricity consumption, and minimization of water use. It is however evident that Walt Disney balances environmental commitment with its business development.

Theory Related To Economic, Social and Environmental Sustainability

Sustainability Theory

Sustainability involves maintaining an outcome over time. The sustainability theory entails that we must sustain the opportunities of capital, human dignity, and the ecological system.

This involves making use of an opportunity that will yield returns while sustaining natural resources and human dignity throughout business operations (Jenkins, N.d, p.383). Needless to say, an organization must strike a balance between economic, environmental, and social priorities to enable sustainable development.

Measurement of sustainability

Walt Disney’s mission is “to become one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information using its portfolio of brands to differentiate its contents, services, and consumer products” (The Walt Disney company, 2011). Disney’s mission statement has elements of sustainability, which the company has struggled to achieve and maintain. In addition, the company has received numerous awards for its sustainability, economically, environmentally and socially.

In addition, “the Walt Disney company won a CR reporting award from corporate, in the best first time report category in 2008 corporate responsibility award” (Award and indices, 2011).

Moreover, Disneyland resort won California’s top environmental leadership award as a result of recycling cooking oil and paradise bay refills, which were considered as sustainable practices (PR Newswire, 2011). This is a clear indication of the existence of sustainability in Disney Company, which is recognized, appreciated, and awarded for its tireless efforts.


As a result of many demonstrations by labor unions concerning employee wages, Disney should try and satisfy employee’s needs in order to motivate them. As a result, customer satisfaction will increase.

When employees are motivated, they observe punctuality and increase their performance, which contributes to increase in productivity. Therefore, employee motivation does not only benefit the employees themselves, but the organization as well. Needless to say, Disney is an organization that has attained sustainability.

Generally, sustainability falls in three categories – economic, social, and environmental. For the company to continue enjoying a competitive advantage, it has to maintain its customers and attract more, and therefore, Disney should not leave any stone unturned.


Sustainability in an organization is vital; it grants organizations, opportunities for achieving a competitive advantage. Nevertheless, an organization must honor economic, social, and environmental sustainability. Economically, an organization must be capable of implementing strategies that will contribute to profitability, such as differentiation strategy.

Socially, the organization must respect human dignity, provide appropriate working conditions for employees, and give back to the society. Environmentally, the organization should work towards maintaining a healthy environment via reducing carbon emissions or any other form of pollution. Walt Disney is one such company, which has attained sustainability, hence receiving recognition globally; however, sustainability must be maintained in order to retain employees, customers, and a competitive advantage.


Award and indices. (2011). Disney company. Web.

Bellet, L. (2004). The Walt Disney Company Sustainable Success. Web.

Corporate citizenship report. (2010). Message from our CEO. Web.

Disney’s human rights. (2010). Human rights policy statement. Web.

Disney Sustainability. (2010). Benefits of recycling. Web.

Hart, S., & Milstein, M. (2003). Creating sustainable value. Academy of Management Executive, 17(2). Web.

Housley, S. (2003). Case Analysis of the Walt Disney Company: The Magic of Disney. Web.

HP eco-solutions. (2010). Disney’s corporate commitment to the environment Establishes foundation for HP Managed Print Services. Web.

Jenkins, W. Berkshire encyclopedia of sustainability: the spirit of sustainability. Web.

Mouse planet. (2008). Disney employee union takes their dispute back to the street, 30 arrested. Web.

PR Newswire. (2011). Disneyland Resort Wins California’s Top Environmental Leadership Award. United business media. Web.

The Walt Disney Company. (2011). Fiscal accomplishments. Web.

The Walt Disney Company. (2011). Company history. Web.

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