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Disney CEO Bob Chapek Apologizes to LGBTQ Employees, Pauses Political Donations in Florida

“It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights,” Chapek said.

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR AIDS HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION - Advocates march at a rally at the Walt Disney Company in Orlando, Fla., spearheaded by advocates from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) on Thursday, March 3, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. The advocates targeted Disney in two near-simultaneous rallies in Orlando and Burbank, Calif., to urge Disney to publicly speak out to oppose Florida's hateful, homophobic "Don't Say Gay" bill targeting LGBTQ+youth, their families, teachers and school counselors that is currently pending in the Florida legislature. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP Images for AIDS Healthcare Foundation)

Advocates march at a rally at the Walt Disney Company in Orlando, Fla.

AP

After weeks of controversy surrounding Disney’s financial support of backers of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the company’s CEO Bob Chapek has announced a pause for all political donations in Florida and has issued an apology to its LGBTQ employees. A week-long PR nightmare for the company found Chapek being called out personally in a shareholders meeting on Wednesday, with employees from the likes of Disney and Pixar urging Chapek to reverse course on the company’s financial support for backers of the bill.

“It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights,” Chapek wrote in a staff memo distributed by Disney. “You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.”

Read the letter in full here.

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.

Bob

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