Returning Disney CEO Robert Iger has indicated that he plans to shift the company’s focus away from politics—but that may not be something he can avoid in the state of Florida.
- After the Disney board of executives removed former CEO Bob Chapek, Iger returned to his role as CEO which he left a little more than two years ago.
- During a town hall meeting with Disney staff, Iger discussed his vision, which includes: focusing on the company’s creativity, making the streaming services profitable, and managing the company’s rising costs.
- Some employees asked Iger about his position on Disney’s recent scuffle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and Iger indicated that storytelling involved “inclusion and acceptance and tolerance.”
- Iger also said that not all controversial issues are political.
Why it’s news
Iger may be facing an uphill battle ahead of him as he works to course correct the nearly 100-year-old company, but a hesitancy to take a strong stance on social and political issues could bring back similar issues to what led to Chapek’s removal.
Early this year, Chapek did not address Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, which upset certain Disney employees. Chapek backtracked and spoke out against the bill which resulted in Disney losing its status as a special districting state.
Backing it up a bit
At issue for the most part is the Parental Rights in Education Act, a Florida state law enacted in April that prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. The idea is to keep discussion of sexuality away from the very young.
Opponents have labeled it the “don’t say gay” bill, and as such it has become a rallying cry for the “woke” corporate cultural—and thus political divisive.
Chapek took both sides of the issue, which greatly hurt his position. Iger is hoping to avoid it, which might not be possible.
If Iger is too political, he could alienate customers and some employees; if Iger is not political he could upset other employees. More employees are pushing for large corporations to take political stands, leaving executives in a position to juggle potentially angering employees or angering customers.
Iger has a history of making political statements during his previous run as CEO. In 2017 he spoke against a travel ban that largely affected Muslim-majority countries. He also has also made statements supporting gun control.
However, the political climate Iger is entering has shifted. While strong political stances may be popular with certain groups of employees, Iger will also have to consider the customer base. Finding a balance that will keep customers and employees happy may be one of Iger’s most difficult tasks ahead.