The Walt Disney Company - A Leader In Corporate Social Responsibility
The Walt Disney Company is one of the largest and most well-known corporations practicing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) all the way down the line in their business model. As the largest media and entertainment conglomerate in the world, and aside from its constant “Imagineering”, Disney has a tremendous responsibility to give back to those who have helped it become the powerhouse that it is today.
In 2009, Disney was named a leader in Corporate Social Responsibility according to the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and Reputation Institute. The Walt Disney Company mainly focuses on the environment, community, and labor standards while focusing heavily on volunteerism. The Company continues to give to charity, with an increased focus on natural disasters such as the earthquakes in Haiti in 2010. Jane Goodall Global Leadership Awards were presented on September 24, 2011 and the winner for Corporate Social Responsibility was The Walt Disney Company. This award honors a corporation or business that has taken significant steps to better our world through responsible business practices.
Volunteerism is a major focus for Disney, offering free tickets to a million people in exchange for a day of volunteer service from an organization of their choice. This encouraged over one million people in the United States to commit to service efforts to volunteer in their communities.
The environment continues to be at the forefront of what Disney strives to protect. Their goal is to benefit their guests, employees and businesses, while making the Company a desirable place to work through their consumer social responsibility efforts.
According to their website they strive to, “reinforce the attractiveness of our brands and products and strengthen our bonds with consumers and neighbors in the communities the world over.”
Disney has focused on the environment from the beginning as is a reoccurring theme in business practices. Through motion pictures and television programming geared toward the environment, Disney encourages environmental education. Disneynature films, part of Walt Disney Motion Picture Studios, share compelling stories and immerse audiences in the natural world. Part of the proceeds from three Disneynature films to date – Earth, Oceans, and African Cats – have 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.
The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, established on Earth Day in 1995, supports efforts of local and global non-profits who protect wildlife, ecosystems, and make a positive impact on the community. Since its inception, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has helped to support over $20 million in projects in over 112 countries.
The Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment team connects Walt Disney Parks and Resorts guests and cast members with animals, plants and nature and inspires them to positively impact the environment. Team members are responsible for animal care and health, science, and education programs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, The Seas with Nemo & Friends and The Tri-Circle D Ranch at Walt Disney World Resort; Disney Cruise Line’s private island in The Bahamas Castaway Cay; and Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, in Ko Olina, Hawaii. The Animal Programs team participates in cooperative breeding programs with other zoological facilities at the other theme parks, and offers tours and education programs. Through these activities, they create magical memories for their guests, while also making a difference for conservation around the world.
Through community outreach and collaboration, the Walt Disney Company continues its effort with Corporate Social Responsibility.
According to the website, “In addition to charitable giving, Disney supports local economies by contributing significant tax revenue and by consuming local goods and services. As an employer, we hire, train and support a workforce and its families. Our employees are active citizens, who show their care for the communities in which they live and work through civic engagement, volunteerism and tax contributions. The Company encourages their good deeds through its Disney VoluntEARS program.”
Disney maintains the highest ethical standards from theme parks to their consumer products and takes their corporate social responsibility seriously and with a great amount of pride.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.