Disney CEO Bob Iger hosted his first companywide meeting after returning to the position with employees on Monday, addressing concerns over the company’s recent response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and how Disney plans to move forward.
According to Variety, Iger’s comments regarding Disney’s stance on LGBTQ+ inclusion were prompted by an employee Q&A session during the meeting. When asked about the company’s current position, Iger said, “one of the core values of our storytelling is inclusion, and acceptance and tolerance. And we can’t lose that; we just can’t lose that…How we actually change the world through the good must continue.”
Iger referred to this as a “core value” at Disney, acknowledged the approach is “not going to make everyone happy all the time,” and claims it isn’t trying to. Variety’s report includes employees confirming Iger’s statement and a tweet from one staffer saying Iger delivered the response with “no hesitation.”
The topic arises after a series of employee-led initiatives and social media campaigns took aim at Disney earlier this year over its handling of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. Disney employees criticized the company and organized a walkout after learning it donated nearly $200,000 to politicians supporting the bill. At the time, Bob Chapek still held the Walt Disney Co. CEO position and later apologized for the company’s “painful silence” in an internal email.
In March, Florida’s legislature passed HB 1557, prohibiting conversations around LGBTQ+ topics in the classroom, and Disney followed up with a statement. The company’s stance claimed its goal was to see the law “be repealed or struck down in the courts.”
While Iger’s predecessor, Chapek, infamously avoided political conversations until pressured, The Hollywood Reporter shared comments regarding Iger’s perspective on Disney’s political stance. In the meeting, Iger said he thinks “there’s a misperception here about what politics is.”
“Some of the subjects that have been proven to be controversial as it relates to Disney have been branded political,” said Iger. “And I don’t think they are.”
Iger’s initial meeting also confirmed it would maintain a recent hiring freeze Chapek put in place, and the CEO shut down rumors that Apple had plans to buy Disney. He also showed support for a push to see more Disney employees return to in-office work.
Chapek began his time as Disney’s CEO in 2020, taking on the role after Iger initially stepped down. Last week, the company announced Iger’s surprising return after Chapek’s two-year run. Iger previously held the Disney CEO role for 15 years, from 2005 to 2020, and oversaw acquisitions like Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm.
Andrea Shearon is a freelance contributor for covering games and entertainment. She’s worn several hats over her seven-year career in the games industry, with bylines over at Fanbyte, USA Today’s FTW, TheGamer, VG247, and RPG Site. Find her on Twitter (@Maajora) or the Materia Possessions podcast chatting about FFXIV, RPGs, and any series involving giant robots.