Disney CEO Bob Chapek mishandled the response to an anti-LGBTQ law in Florida, business and political strategists said.
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Corporate leaders are having to get political, whether they like it or not.
A strategist said Disney’s response to the so-called Don’t Say Gay law “didn’t please anyone.”
Advisors say CEOs need to adapt quickly because the social-outrage machine is not going away.
The Walt Disney Company has always meant to evoke happiness and magic.
But the company is at the center of an ugly cultural and political battle because of its response to the GOP’s new Parental Rights in Education law in Florida, where Disney employs some 60,000 workers.
Opponents call the law “Don’t Say Gay” because it restricts instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in schools and bans it in kindergarten through third grade. LGBTQ advocates also argue the law could lead to teachers outing their students.
The new law forced Bob Chapek, who’s been the CEO of Disney since 2020, to step into the fracas — and he faced a storm of criticism over his statements about the law and their timing. Experts say the way he handled the company’s response to the law is a lesson for business leaders to be proactive and deliberate about social-justice issues.
“I think that they didn’t please anyone,” said Rodell Mollineau, a cofounder and partner at Rokk Solutions, a bipartisan public affairs and strategic communications agency in Washington, DC. “They moved too slowly on the front end and then there was awkward execution on the back end.”
Critics said Chapek appeared to take a stand on LGBTQ rights only after outrage from employees and consumers, something that seems at odds with the company’s purpose, outlined on its website, to “amplify underrepresented voices and untold stories and champion a multitude of perspectives.”
To many employees and consumers, Chapek appears reactionary, business professors and consultants said. And he faces the wrath of Florida Republicans; Disney will be losing its special tax status in the state.
A Disney spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Disney’s mishap is emblematic of an issue that leaders are wrestling with: figuring out their new role in society as ushers of profit and social fairness. The professors and consultants said that instead of avoiding social issues, leaders must be prepared to take bold stands on those that are relevant to their stakeholders.
Experts suggested business …read more
Source:: Business Insider