CEO of the Walt Disney Company Bob Chapek has sent an apology message to Disney Cast Members who have felt unsupported by the company’s lack of action against the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill that was recently passed in Florida.
The full text of the email has been shared publicly by the Walt Disney Company:
To my fellow colleagues, but especially our LGBTQ+ community,
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.
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.
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.
Earlier this week at the company’s annual shareholder meeting, Chapek shared that the company initially took a behind-the-scenes approach to the piece of legislature, by working with politicians on both sides of the issue out of the public eye. Following disappointment by Cast Members, fans, and the LGBTQ+ community and allies in general, Chapek used that meeting to share that he would be meeting with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to further discuss the bill.
Chapek also shared during the shareholder meeting that the company would be making a $5 million donation to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), however, a spokesperson for the organization later shared that non-profit had refused Disney’s donation, and would continue to do so until they could see the company’s support in action.
Today’s email is the latest communication from the Walt Disney Company on the matter, and in addition to notices from the DeSantis administration and the HRC, the email follows showings of support from multiple areas within the Walt Disney Company, including personal statements from Disney Imagineers, Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and individual Cast Members.