Amidst a social media firestorm, Disney heads into its shareholders meeting tomorrow, March 9, with an angered base that includes not just customers and shareholders but also its own employees.
For a second day, trending hashtags on social media include #DisneySayGay and #DisneyDoBetter arising from the company’s lack of appetite to take the matter of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill to task. Now that the bill has passed, the heat on Disney continues.
In a statement to leadership of the Walt Disney Company, a self-described group of “The Queer/LGBTQIA+ Employees of The Walt Disney Company DMED & Their Allies” have issued a blistering statement in which they express “disappointment in The Walt Disney Company leadership and their non-response to these issues” calling — in no unsure terms — for the company to “immediately withdraw their funding of politicians who support [“Don’t Say Gay”] legislation [and] forcefully denounce these efforts as antithetical to the ethics of TWDC and its employees.”
For a company that prides itself on inclusivity (even naming it as a pillar to the company’s foundation last year), the recent actions seem at odds with previous efforts including last year’s huge Pride marketing push. The giant marketing support behind last year’s Rainbow Disney Collection was a means of showcasing the company’s commitment to “count everybody in.”
In an email sent to Walt Disney Company employees, Disney CEO Bob Chapek indicated taking a stance on political matters “can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change.” He further acknowledged the need to “[reassess] advocacy strategies around the world—including political giving.”
There will be a giant elephant in the room tomorrow at the Walt Disney Company Shareholder meeting and it won’t be Dumbo.