Disney’s use of corporate influence to further “left-wing legislative goals” like opposing Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill has left conservative workers feeling invisible and in fear of professional reprisal, according to a new Disney employee petition.
An open letter penned by conservative Disney employees asks the company to remain neutral on issues that have politicized the corporate culture, damaged morale and caused some employees to feel their days working at the Mouse House are numbered.
“The company we love seems to think we don’t exist or don’t belong here,” according to the petition. “Disney shouldn’t be a vehicle for one demographic’s political activism.”
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Disney has not yet commented on the petition.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek has been caught in the middle of a media firestorm for his handling of the company’s response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill that would prohibit classroom discussion about sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. The Florida Senate has passed what is called the Parental Rights in Education measure and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has signaled he will sign the bill.
Conservative Disney employees have “become invisible” and “increasingly uncomfortable” as the company actively promotes a progressive political agenda, according to the Disney Employees’ Open Letter in Favor of a Politically Neutral Disney.
“We watch quietly as our beliefs come under attack from our own employer,” according to the petition. “We frequently see those who share our opinions condemned as villains by our own leadership.”
The petition contends Disney fosters an “environment of fear” that any employee not holding a progressive viewpoint will be exposed and dismissed.
“Those of us who don’t align with this vision keep our heads down and do our work without bringing our personal beliefs into the workplace,” the petition said. “We’ve done this without complaint because we don’t want to rock the boat, but the boat is being rocked, and our leadership seems compelled to reward those who are rocking it.”
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Disney hosted a town hall meeting this week to discuss the company’s response to the Florida bill and attempt to quash protests that led to walkouts by cast members, Disney parlance for employees.
“Leadership frequently communicates its commitment to creating an inclusive workplace where cast members feel comfortable sharing their perspectives and being their authentic selves at work,” according to the petition. “That is not our workplace experience.”
This week’s forum was part of a “Reimagine Tomorrow” campaign reinforcing the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
“Much has been made of our internal efforts to Reimagine Tomorrow, but as much as diversity and inclusion are promoted, the tomorrow being reimagined doesn’t seem to have much room for religious or political conservatives within the company,” the open letter said.
Progressive Disney employees have openly advocated for the company to punish workers who favor the Parental Rights in Education legislation, according to the petition.
“Over the last few weeks, we have watched as our leadership has expressed their condemnation for laws and policies we support,” according to the petition. “We have watched as our colleagues, convinced that no one in the company could possibly disagree with them, grow increasingly aggressive in their demands.”
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Disneyland, Walt Disney World and other Disney theme parks around the world resonate with people from all walks of life across the political spectrum, according to the petition.
“Our parks are the source of joy and inspiration that Walt hoped they would become,” according to the open letter. “Every year, millions of guests escape an increasingly divided world to a place where they can relive fond memories of the past and savor the challenge and promise of the future. They do this alongside thousands of other guests that might not have anything in common with them other than a shared love of Disney.”
Last year, Disney launched a campaign to introduce more diversity and inclusion into its theme parks, workforce and company culture. At the same time, the company is in the process of moving its Disney Park, Experiences and Products division headquarters — including the Walt Disney Imagineering creative arm that designs theme parks — to the Orlando area to take advantage of Florida’s business-friendly climate and $570 million in state tax incentives.