Disney’s new chief executive shocked the business community last week by admitting the company’s previous opposition to Florida parental rights legislation was a mistake.
In a town hall with employees, new Disney CEO Bob Iger expressed regret that his predecessor and future successor, Bob Chapek, positioned the company against legislation that prohibits the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity to students under fourth grade. Moving irritated some consumers and ended up in Disney losing special regulatory and tax privileges in the Sunshine State.
Iger, among his many warnings to House Mouse employees, suggested striking the “delicate balance” between telling stories and “listening” to members of the public, as well as maintaining “respect for the people you serve” rather than ” disdain “. for them.” However, the veteran executive expressed doubts that some hot topics that recently landed Disney in national controversy are overtly “political.”
Disney shares have fallen nearly 41% year-to-date, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down more than 7% over the same period.
Jeremy Tedesco, senior vice president of corporate engagement for Alliance Defending Freedom, noted in an interview with The Daily Wire that consumers will need to see real change at Disney rather than just words before the brand iconic won’t regain their trust. “I guess the proof will be in the actions he actually takes,” Tedesco said, noting that Iger is more progressive in his personal politics than Chapek. “Hopefully he can be someone who can rise above that and understand that he has a duty to shareholders and employees.”
Indeed, signs of consumer hesitation have emerged across certain Disney verticals in recent months. Among other parameters concerning, the company reported a significant slowdown in new domestic subscriptions for flagship streaming service Disney+ after entering the contentious political battle.
Beyond negative reactions from shareholders and consumers, conservative employees published an open statement detailing the company’s hostile work environment, which has “become an increasingly uncomfortable workplace” for people “whose political and religious views are not explicitly progressive.” Tedesco observed that a hostile work environment discourages talent, which is a liability for Disney.
“If you just commit to the fact that ‘we have a wide range of beliefs represented in our employee base, and therefore we’re not going to engage in those things,’ that will be a boon for employees,” he said. he declared. “They’re going to feel a lot more engaged and not demoralized, like they are now.”
Employees noted the success of wildly popular offerings, such as the historic musical “Hamilton” and Star Wars spin-off “The Mandalorian,” as examples of the company’s ability to unite Americans of all walks of life. . Some newer releases have been much more polarizing and therefore have been crushed in the market. “Strange World”, an animated film featuring a homosexual teenage romance, sparkling at the box office during what should have been a strong holiday weekend opening. “Lightyear”, the latest installment in the popular Toy Story franchise, Featured a homosexual kiss and also struggled among moviegoers.
“Disney is an object lesson in getting off your skis when it comes to pushing things outside of your business interest,” Tedesco observed.
The entertainment conglomerate is not alone in its zeal for political activism. Leaders who embrace the environmental, social and governance movement, also known as ESG, routinely adopt policies such as reducing carbon emissions and corporate diversity audits, even though such moves are detrimental to profits. Asset management companies such as BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street, which own a combined 15% of Disney shares, have frequently consolidated market power encourage ESG initiatives within their portfolio companies.
“If Disney starts to pull out of ESG and all of this partisan politics on behalf of Disney as a company, I think that could be very good, ultimately, for the broader business community.” , noted Tedesco. “I think the main thing is that we’ll see what’s really on his mind. It’s one thing to say some of the things in a scene, which, as encouraging as they are, have been said. They were a bit vague, it was not entirely clear what it was saying or what the concrete steps would be They need to take concrete steps to demonstrate that they really want to reject the partisan pressure game that is ESG and internal employee activism.
Alliance Defending Freedom unveiled a Viewpoint Diversity Score initiative earlier this year, which is an effort to track “corporate respect for religious and ideological diversity.” Tedesco said the scores were remarkably low in the inaugural analysis, although companies can take a handful of simple steps if they want to improve their position. An easily enforceable policy is the repeal of bans on employees donating to religious nonprofit organizations through matching gift programs.
Until Iger fails to show the market that Disney will begin to respect diversity of thought, according to Tedesco, consumers “will not believe those words that have come out of his mouth, because the track record thus far has been entirely in the other way. “
Disclosure: The Daily Wire announced plans for children’s entertainment content.
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