In mid-March, Disney was faced to take a stance on the “Don’t Say Gay” bill as it sparked tremendous debate on which side they should support. Disney was working behind the scenes since they thought it would be more effective to engage directly with lawmakers on both sides as their stance spilled publicly causing chaos and debate. Frustrated workers organized a walkout across the US because LGBTQ advocates protested the CEO Bob Chapek’s response in publicly criticizing Florida legislation involving the instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. The employees walked out because they believed the legislation opposes on basic human rights and that employees’ voices should be heard.
At its core, Disney is stuck in a tough battle because their movies and content have shaped the generations of children around the word and political and social situations have also shaped their content. They are put into difficult situations where they could make statements that “do very little to change outcomes or minds” or are “often weaponized by one or the other to further divide and inflame” like the situation being presented.
This shows how global companies nowadays are forced to balance their expectations of their consumers with the demands of the market. Gen Z is more diverse in terms of race and gender identities and these young people are more confrontational than their elders in pushing for social change and will pressure CEOs ang higher ups to make a change, which was unheard of years ago. No matter how Disney balances their stance, they will be spotlighted in the “political football game”. With each stance that Disney takes, there are mixed signals, and one side will not be satisfied. Demonstrating, the pressure of companies to act but then it effects their global brand image. Others from outside the US will see this news and again, take stances based on their individual views on how Disney is responding. This potentially could hurt or increase Disney’s reputation worldwide.
As a final statement about this issue, Disney stated “We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country,”. This seemed to have neutralize the backlash and we will continue to see actions taken by Disney in the coming months.