To my fellow colleagues, but especially our LGBTQ+ community,
The Walt Disney Company is one of Florida’s largest private employers and many employees had expected the company to take a strong stand against the legislation, including Pixar staff, who released a scathing statement to their parent company yesterday.
Today, Chapek apologized directly to Disney employees for the company’s muted response to the passage of legislation in Florida that prohibits “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity.” The bill, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics, is viewed as harmful to LGBTQ youth in the state.
Our employees see the power of this great company as an opportunity to do good. I agree. Yes, we need to use our influence to promote that good by telling inclusive stories, but also by standing up for the rights of all.
Thank you to all who have reached out to me sharing your pain, frustration and sadness over the company’s response to the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Speaking to you, reading your messages, and meeting with you have helped me better understand how painful our silence was. It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.
Starting immediately, we are increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states. We are hard at work creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values. And today, we are pausing all political donations in the state of Florida pending this review. But, I know there is so much more work to be done. I am committed to this work and to you all, and will continue to engage with the LGBTQ+ community so that I can become a better ally. You will hear more about our progress in the coming weeks.
I truly believe we are an infinitely better and stronger company because of our LGBTQ+ community. I missed the mark in this case but am an ally you can count on—and I will be an outspoken champion for the protections, visibility, and opportunity you deserve.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek is sorry.
Here is the full text of Chapek’s memo to employees, which was also released to the media:
Chapek also said that he’ll “continue to engage with the LGBTQ+ community so that I can become a better ally,” and that the Disney Company will announce more concrete actions in the coming weeks.
Chapek’s contrite letter admits that he misplayed the situation by viewing the new Florida law as just another bill and not a “challenge to basic human rights.” Chapek went on to say that effective immediately, the company would pause all political donations in the state of Florida. The company has donated nearly 0,000 to members of the Florida legislature in the past two years, as well as ,000 to Florida governor Ron DeSantis (R), according to Popular Information.