Following weeks of blowback for refusing to condemn Florida's discriminatory "don't say gay" bill and continuing to donate money to the bill's sponsors, Disney CEO Bob Chapek, in his first public statement on the subject, shared that the company would be donating $5 million to the Human Rights Campaign and other organizations protecting LGBTQ+ rights.
Chapek also intends to meet with Florida's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis -- who is set to sign the bill into law -- to discuss the company's concerns about the legislation. The two already spoke over the phone, according to Chapek.
"The governor heard our concerns and agreed to meet with me and LGBTQ+ members of our senior team in Florida to discuss the ways to address them," Chapek said during Disney's board meeting today, in which he officially confirmed the company's opposition to the bill. "Governor DeSantis committed to me that he wanted to make sure that this law could not be weaponized in any way by individuals in the state or groups in the state to unduly harm or target gay, lesbian, nonbinary, or transgender kids and families."
Not everyone was as convinced.
\u201cIn the Disney Shareholder meeting, Bob Chapek just said he talked to Governor Ron DeSantis who \u201cassured him\u201d that the law would \u201cnot be used to weaponize against the LGBTQ+ community,\u201d and for the first time in a long time I am at a loss for words\u201d
\u201cThese are meaningless words. Ron DeSantis' press secretary said anyone against the bill was a "groomer" painting the LGBTQ+ as pedophiles. The sponsor of the bill said this bill was designed to stop kids from coming out. This bill is specifically meant to hurt gay people, Disney.\u201d
This follows private statements made by Chapek including a memo sent to Disney staff earlier this week following mounting pressure. In it, he assured staff that the company "unequivocally" stands with its LGBTQ+ workers and that it would be reassessing its donations but fell short of an actual rebuke of the law or a promise to stop donating to politicians who sponsored or supported it. His reasoning: Speaking out against the law would make no difference.
"As we have seen time and again, corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds," Chapek wrote. "Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame. Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change."
A handful of additional items were voted on today by shareholders, with three, in particular, reportedly raising some eyebrows. The first resolution requested a diligence report that would evaluate the company's human rights impact. The second request was for a report on median and adjusted pay caps across race and gender at the company. The final resolution was a workplace nondiscrimination audit and report. The board advised shareholders to vote against all of these resolutions, according to information obtained by LGBTQ Nation from a shareholder of the company.
Of the three proposals, only the pay equity report passed, with 59 percent of shareholders voting in favor. The other two were rejected because shareholders felt the current company culture and policies didn't necessitate them. A proposal that would have made public the details of any political lobbying by Disney was also rejected.