After Disney faced internal and external criticism for its tepid response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, CEO Bob Chapek announced on Friday that the massive entertainment conglomerate will be pausing all political donations in the state. Chapek also apologized to LGBTQ+ employees for his failure to be a “stronger ally” in the face of the looming legislation that will restrict teachers from discussing any non-heterosexual issues, which will negatively impact non-cisgender students.
In his open letter to employees, Chapek finally recognized the severity of the bill’s impact, which he called “yet another challenge to basic human rights” with ramifications that go far beyond Florida. He also doubled on Disney’s promise to tell more inclusive stories while recognizing that, clearly, even more action needs to be taken.
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.
Chapek concluded the letter by fully admitting that he “missed the mark” in his initial response to the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. Clearly, the public and internal pushback worked as Disney appears to have made a significant 180. Whether the company actually makes good on the promises in Chapek’s letter will be the subject of intense scrutiny in the days ahead.