Disney CEO Bob Chapek explains why Disney shrugged about the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

Disney has gotten well-deserved criticism in recent months regarding the situation in Florida with the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Disney (DisneyWorld) is one of the biggest employers in the state of Florida and Disney is perfectly capable of throwing around their weight politically whenever they want to. If Disney threatened the Republican bigots in Florida, those bigots would fold in the face of losing one of Florida’s biggest industries. Disney has not threatened anyone, nor have they even registered their displeasure with the state legislating homophobia. In fact, Disney has made donations to some of the Republicans who sponsored the legislation. So Disney CEO Bob Chapek wrote a lil’ memo about it and of course THR got their hands on the memo:

On Friday, I met with a small group of Disney LGBTQ+ leaders to discuss controversial legislation pending in Florida that would impact their communities. I want to thank them for a meaningful, illuminating, and at times deeply moving conversation. I told the group I would write to the entire company with my thoughts on the issues we discussed. I wish every one of our employees could have heard not just the passionate voices in the room, but the bravery, honesty, and pride those voices expressed. It is a conversation I will not forget.

One common theme was disappointment that the company has not issued a public statement condemning the legislation. That disappointment was compounded by the fact that, while not perfect, our company has a long history of supporting the LGBTQ+ community—and in fact, has played an important role in the personal journeys of so many of our employees.

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

I also believe you deserve an explanation for why we have not issued a statement. We are going to have a more fulsome conversation about this at the company-wide Reimagine Tomorrow Summit in April, but I will preview that discussion now as it is so timely. As we have seen time and again, corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds. Instead, they are often weaponized 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 do not want anyone to mistake a lack of a statement for a lack of support. We all share the same goal of a more tolerant, respectful world. Where we may differ is in the tactics to get there. And because this struggle is much bigger than any one bill in any one state, I believe the best way for our company to bring about lasting change is through the inspiring content we produce, the welcoming culture we create, and the diverse community organizations we support.

… Finally, I want to address concerns about our political contributions in Florida. While we have not given money to any politician based on this issue, we have contributed to both Republican and Democrat legislators who have subsequently taken positions on both sides of the legislation. I can also share that Geoff Morrell, our new Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, will be reassessing our advocacy strategies around the world—including political giving—as he begins to integrate the communications, public policy, government relations and CSR teams.

[From THR]

Here’s the thing: if your corporation doesn’t want to get involved in politics and you just want your content to speak for itself, then don’t donate to Republicans or Democrats. Disney was clearly involved in local Florida politics and they’re clearly a big political donor within the state. So don’t act like it’s not your corporate responsibility to, you know, get involved with horrible, bigoted legislation within the state?? You can’t have it both ways, and it’s utter bullsh-t to say that “corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds” when you’ve already influenced the “outcome” by donating to fascist bigots.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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36 Responses to “Disney CEO Bob Chapek explains why Disney shrugged about the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill”

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  1. Emma says:

    Absolutely meaningless to talk the talk if you don’t walk the walk when it comes to basic human rights for LGBTQ people. 🏳️‍🌈 🏳️‍⚧️

    • Chanteloup says:

      So right. AND are also working against them.

    • Chanteloup says:

      “it’s utter bullsh-t to say that ‘corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds’ when you’ve already influenced the ‘outcome’ by donating to fascist bigots.” Thank you, Kaiser.

      FUCK DISNEY and talk out of both sides of your face effing BOB CHOPEK

    • Mrs.Krabapple says:

      Disney supports LGBTQ+ when it doesn’t count, and/or when it brings them good publicity. But never forget that their over-riding goal is to have Disney-friendly and corporate-friendly legislation. That means they will never stop supporting republicans, who think corporations should have more rights than people.

      Their support of LGBTQ+ is just empty words trying to create good publicity. But it stops at the door of their corporate interests.

  2. Chimney says:

    Why people expect more of Disney is beyond me. Most of their movies are super regressive, focused on war-mongering, made in cooperation with the US military, etc. They shrugged bc they agree

  3. Redheadwriter says:

    Preach. Disney is still the anti-Christ.

  4. Mac says:

    fck Disney

    • Jais says:

      Yep, fuck Disney. They are the epitome of unchecked capitalism. They don’t care unless it makes them money or hurts them enough to make them lose serious money.

  5. Nanea says:

    I’m sure Bob Iger would have handled this differently.

    But with the $tree version of a CEO at the helm, this is sadly what goes for the Disney leadership’s corporate guideline, aka bothsiderism, right now.

    Too bad no one on the board has called out BC publicly for this.

    • Ana170 says:

      They haven’t had anyone on the board to speak out since Roy Disney left. I have my doubts about this guy as CEO as well. Every word I’ve heard from him so far has been along these lines. I have no idea how he got the job because Disney has gotten involved in the past. They threatened to leave Georgia over the bathroom bill.

    • EduBois says:

      Agreed. Bob Iger at least had some finesse and savvy. This dude? Sorry. I’ve never expected anything out of Disney. This is 100% consistent for them.

    • The Recluse says:

      They sure have a talent for finding these right wing corporate greed weasels to run their company, don’t they? Ugh.
      (An aside, Chris Evans has been a fan for ages, but his brother is famously out, so one wonders whether he will feel compelled to say something.)

  6. lizbert says:

    Fulsome: it does not mean what he thinks it means 😀

    • Chanteloup says:

      and LGBTQ+ advocacy DOES NOT MEAN the tasteless waste of word salad garbage and nothingness mixed with actual harm to the vulnerable he is spewing here. GAG.

      He is vile.

  7. Maida says:

    Abigail Disney (Walt’s great-niece, who does not work for the Disney organization) had a Twitter thread on this that was spot-on. The Disney organization is concerned about money and power — that’s it. They contribute to politicians who back the “business-friendly” policies they care about and shrug at everything else.

    And in this context “business-friendly” means low corporate taxes and license to do whatever the company wants in Florida.

    • kirk says:

      Maida – thanks for the info on Abigail Disney Twitter thread since am not on Twitter and don’t usually check.

      “Geoff Morrell, our new Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, will be reassessing our advocacy strategies around the world—including political giving…” – we’re getting ready to start thinking about how we can avoid having our political giving become public while we pretend to give lip service to advocacy, but maximize profits.

  8. Becks1 says:

    lack of a statement does not equal lack of support? Actually, here it does. And while you’re funneling money to the politicians who support this BS, you’re supporting THEM, no matter how much you say you support the LGBTQ community.

  9. KBeth says:

    There was a time I really enjoyed a Disney vacation. They can fu*k right off.

    • Josephine says:

      Agreed. Can’t step foot in the state of Florida or spend a dime there. It’s become a loathsome, hateful, ugly place with laws more similar to countries with rampant human rights abuses than to its fellow states. The clip of the governor yelling at and insulting college kids wearing masks really takes the cake — what a cess pool that entire state has become.

  10. Case says:

    This is because they’re all about the money and Republicans wanted to reopen Orlando ASAP regardless of how unsafe it was.

  11. beff says:

    Someone PLEASE tell me that this statement did not say “Republican and Democrat legislators.” That right there is the proof in the pudding. They have reich wingers in their midst who will do the most to harm the LGBTQ+ community in Florida, California and beyond.

    • Lionel says:

      @Beff: Exactly! It’s a dog whistle, even if many who use it are too dumb to realize it. Seriously appalling to see it in a corporate statement.

  12. Regina Falangie says:

    “We didn’t do or say anything because we just don’t care.”

    I believe that’s what he meant.

  13. Talia says:

    Disney is a for profit corporation. If they genuinely thought their donations wouldn’t do anything, they wouldn’t donate. They’ve decided that Republicans are more big business friendly (which, since they ignore pandemics and screw over workers, they are) and if making money means supporting oppression of the LGBTQ+ community as a side effect, oh well.

    I agree Disney aren’t *intentionally* aiming at that community but they absolutely know that that’s the effect of what they are doing.

  14. Lukie says:

    And this is just another reason I don’t f🤬k with Disney and their minstrel mouse.

  15. Willow says:

    Does he seriously expect us to believe that corporations don’t influence government policy? There is an entire industry, lobbying, devoted to doing just that. Disney pays both politicians and lobbyists for influence. Oops, sorry, donates…

  16. Springfield, USA says:

    They don’t want to anger the religious right. This is just a bunch of “two-sides” pablum to justify not coming out against cruel and shameful bigotry aimed at children.

  17. MsGnomer says:

    DSNEY has a long history of being problematic. I dont know about you, but I prefer the Grimm version of the fairy tales to anything that corporation has put into the world. Have been boycotting their garbage show since the late 80s because of the racism.

  18. badrockandroll says:

    For some reason the ads on my Twitter feed really really want me to visit Florida. I keep commenting that as long as it has a government that works to destroy women’s freedoms, to value gun ownership and use over human rights, to disenfranchise marginalized voters and to take away the rights of the LGBTQ community, I don’t see my Snowbird dollars landing there. But I think that I had better learn to love ice and snow because Florida seems to lead the way for other sunbelt/rustbelt states to develop regressive laws.

  19. wtf says:

    I just came to say F*#k Disney and this corporate statement. This statement is trash. His position is trash. His argument is trash.
    This is why “conservatives” are so scared of the changing demographics of this country. They’re worried that we will start treating cis white men with the same aggressive ignorance and hostility that they’ve shown to EVERY OTHER GROUP of HUMANS

  20. jferber says:

    WTF, right on. And Kaiser, you said exactly the right thing.

  21. butterflystella says:

    WTF? This “law” is infuriating and I believe I will now cancel my Disney+

  22. bisynaptic says:

    LOL “fulsome “ doesn’t mean what he thinks it means. Imagine having the resources he has at his disposal and still coming off as a grade-school failure.

  23. Kittycat says: