Bob Chapek says he ‘unequivocally’ supports LGBTQ+ cast members but still refuses to speak out against controversial bill

0

When it comes to businesses in Florida, almost none rank higher than Disney. Walt Disney World Resort employs tens of thousands of Florida residents and brings in millions of dollars in revenue each year. Because Disney is so important to the state, many begged the company to speak out when the Florida House of Representatives passed the Parental Rights in Education Bill, also known as the Bill. “Don’t say gay” bill.

Credit: Gay Days Anaheim

Disney remained silent for almost a week, but then decided it was best to make a statement. Unfortunately, this statement flew by like a lead balloon. Fans felt that the statement was not a statement at all. Others were angry that, in a statement addressing LGBTQ+ issues, the company encouraged fans to spend more money with them, so they could continue creating content. Others have pointed out that one of Disney’s five keys is inclusion, which runs directly counter to this bill.

The 5 Keys to Disney

Credit: Disney

Frustration over Disney’s lack of action continued to grow. Sources told the media that CEO Bob Chapek viewed the bill as “non-business related,” which didn’t help. We now learn that Chapek sent an internal email to all employees. In the email – which was shared with The Hollywood Reporter – Chapek says he and “the entire leadership team are unequivocally supportive of our LGBTQ+ employees, their families, and their communities.”

Chapek also said:

I also believe you deserve an explanation for why we did not release a statement. We’re going to have a more in-depth conversation about this at the company-wide Reimagine Tomorrow summit in April, but I’m going to preview that discussion now because it’s so timely.

As we’ve seen time and time again, company statements do very little to change results or minds. Instead, they are often militarized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame. Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change.

Bob Chapeck

Credit: Disney

Disney will hold its annual shareholder meeting on March 9, and many believe Chapek will be asked about the company’s position. If that were to happen, it would be nearly impossible for Chapek to avoid responding. However, he might decide to simply repeat what he wrote in the email to all staff. He may also need to explain why the company claims to support the LGBTQ+ community, while donating to all sponsors and co-sponsors of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Disney World Love

Credit: Jonathan LovitzTwitter

You can read Chapek’s full email below:

Team,

Before getting to the heart of the matter, I would like to thank everyone affected by the invasion of Ukraine, especially our team in Europe and our employees around the world who have family in the region. It’s an incredibly difficult time, and my thoughts are with you. I also want to thank the ABC News team who covered the horrific events there. Their courage and dedication to informing the world during this crisis is exemplary.

On Friday, I met with a small group of LGBTQ+ leaders at Disney to discuss controversial pending legislation in Florida that would impact their communities. I want to thank them for this meaningful, illuminating and at times deeply moving conversation. I told the group that I would write to the entire company with my thoughts on the issues we discussed. I wish each of our employees could hear not only the passionate voices in the room, but also the bravery, honesty and pride expressed by those voices. It’s a conversation I won’t forget.

A common theme was disappointment that the company did not issue a public statement condemning the legislation. This disappointment was compounded by the fact that, while not perfect, our company has a long history of supporting the LGBTQ+ community and has in fact played a significant role in the personal journeys of so many of our employees.

I want to be crystal clear: I and the entire leadership team unequivocally support our LGBTQ+ employees, their families, and their communities. And we are committed to creating a more inclusive business and world. I understand that the very need to reiterate this commitment means that we still have work to do.

I also believe you deserve an explanation for why we did not release a statement. We’re going to have a more in-depth conversation about this at the company-wide Reimagine Tomorrow summit in April, but I’m going to preview that discussion now because it’s so timely.

As we’ve seen time and time again, company statements do very little to change results or minds. Instead, they are often militarized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame. Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change.

I don’t want anyone to confuse a lack of reporting with a lack of support. We all share the same goal of a more tolerant and respectful world. Where we can differ is in the tactics to get there. And because this fight is far bigger than any bill in any state, I believe the best way for our company to bring lasting change is through the inspiring content we produce, the welcoming culture we create and the diverse community organizations we support. .

There’s a reason content is at the top of this list. For nearly a century, the stories of our company have opened minds, ignited dreams, shown the world as it is and as we would like it to be, and today more than ever, they represent the incredible diversity of our society. We tell important stories, raise voices and, I believe, change hearts and minds.

Encanto, Black Panther, Pose, Reservation Dogs, Coco, Soul, Modern Family, Shang-Chi, Summer of Soul, Love, Victor. These stories and all of our various stories are our corporate statements – and they are more powerful than any tweet or lobbying effort. I firmly believe that our ability to tell such stories – and to receive them with open eyes, ears, and hearts – would be diminished if our company became a political football in any debate.

Powerful content that changes hearts and minds only comes from inclusive cultures, which not only attract and retain the best and most diverse talent, but also give those employees the freedom to come up with ideas that reflect their lives and their experiences. We must work together to make Disney always such a place.

When it comes to our communities, we are and will continue to be a leader in supporting organizations that champion diversity. In 2021, we provided nearly $3 million to support the work of LGBTQ+ organizations. And, we have a long history of supporting important events like Pride parades, and being there when needed, just like we were following Pulse filming in Orlando. That’s why we’ve earned a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign for 16 consecutive years.

Finally, I want to address concerns about our political contributions in Florida. Although we have not given money to any politicians based on this issue, we have contributed to Republican and Democratic lawmakers who subsequently took a stand on both sides of the legislation. I can also tell you that Geoff Morrell, our new Director of Corporate Affairs, will be reassessing our global advocacy strategies, including political giving, as he begins to integrate the communications, public policy, government relations teams and CSR.

Our company has been a force for inclusion for a long time and that will not change under my leadership. We all have a part to play in this effort – from cast members who create magical memories for fans and families of all kinds, to storytellers who take audiences on journeys to new worlds of stories that illuminate the ours, to all those responsible for ensuring that our culture lives up to our values. I hope we will all continue to row towards a better future.

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.