Faced with a growing outcry from workers, Walt Disney CEO Bob Chapek turned the tide when he publicly voiced his opposition to a bill in Florida dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
The decision to officially sign a statement condemning the bill, which Chapak released at the Disney shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday, comes just two days after he sent a 900-word memo outlining why the company would not publicly oppose it. “Corporate statements do very little to change results or thoughts,” he wrote.
But the memo only provoked criticism when the Animation Guild described it as a “crucial wrong move”.
Chapek’s predecessor, Bob EigerShe criticized the bill last month on Twitter, while Abigail Disney – the granddaughter of Disney’s co-founder and vocal critic of company policy – said she was “deeply angry” at her refusal to criticize Florida legislation.
The backlash marks Chapek’s first erroneous move in public relations since he took over in full after Eiger retired late last year. This is also an early test for Jeff Morel, the new head of the company.
Chapek told shareholders that the company had always opposed the legislation but chose to work “behind the scenes” to persuade lawmakers not to pass it. After “weeks of effort,” the company “ultimately failed,” he admitted.
“I understand that our political approach, no matter how good intentions, has not really been able to do the job,” he said.
Chapek said he spoke with Florida Gov. Ron Desentis, who agreed to meet with him and some of Disney’s LGBTQ + employees in the state where the Walt Disney World resort is located. With about 65,000 employees in the state, Disney is one of the largest private employers in Florida and has significant political weight.
His previous memo said that the company’s best chance of making a difference is “through the inspiring content we produce” and that its ability to do so will be diminished if [we] They were supposed to become political football in every debate. ”
The Florida bill, which aims to block school discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity among children ages nine and under, was passed Tuesday by the Florida State Legislature. Officially known as the Parental Rights in Education Act, it will require the signature of Desentis to become law.
Activists criticized Disney for contributing to politicians who later supported the legislation. Chapek seemed to nod to such concerns when he pledged to re-evaluate “Disney’s approach to public relations – including political giving in and out of Florida.”
Chapek said Disney will also sign a statement of the human rights campaign opposing such legislative efforts across the U.S. and will donate $ 5 million to groups working to protect LGBTQ + rights.
Johnny Madison, interim president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the group would refuse a donation from Disney until it saw further evidence that the company was working with LGBTQ + supporters to block or cancel “dangerous offers.”
“Today they have taken a step in the right direction,” Madison said. “But that was just the first step.”
Disney is not the first Hollywood company to attract employees because of problems facing the LGBTQ + community. In October Netflix employees walked out On a stand-up special by comedian Dave Shappel in which he made mocking references to transgender people.
Georgia lawmakers this week introduced a bill similar to that of Florida. Disney has shot many of Marvel’s films with its largest budget in the country, and under Eiger’s leadership, warned in 2019 that it would be difficult to continue filming there if the state passed a controversial abortion law “Pulse,” which was eventually repealed.
Disney CEO reverses course and opposes Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill Source link Disney CEO reverses course and opposes Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill