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Disney CEO Bob Iger announced two months ago that the company would dismiss 7,000 workers as part of a “strategic realignment” meant to reduce costs. The layoffs will impact employees in the conglomerate’s television, film, theme parks, and corporate divisions, in addition to the entertainment unit, with some workers slated to lose their positions on Monday.
“For our employees who aren’t impacted, I want to acknowledge that there will no doubt be challenges ahead as we continue building the structures and functions that will enable us to be successful moving forward,” Iger informed staff members last month. “In tough moments, we must always do what is required to ensure Disney can continue delivering exceptional entertainment to audiences and guests around the world, now, and long into the future.”
The company’s entertainment unit serves as a primary area for the headcount reductions as Iger pivots toward focusing on franchise properties and well-known brands. He elevated veteran executives Alan Bergman and Dana Walden to serve as co-chairs of Disney Entertainment, the restructured department created earlier this year.
Disney will also restructure the firm’s finance department such that staffers managing accounts for Disney Entertainment and ESPN are more closely consolidated. Bryan Castellani will serve under Disney CFO Christine McCarthy as the finance lead for the two business units, according to a memo obtained by Business Insider.
“I am confident that we are building an even more aligned and collaborative team that will enable our businesses and functions and help the company achieve its stated goals. Please join me in supporting the leaders who are taking on new roles and additional responsibilities. Each will be sharing more about their respective teams and structure in the near future,” McCarthy wrote in the memo. “While our changes are necessary to set the company up for future success, I acknowledge that change can be filled with tough decisions, conversations, and realities. There is more work to be done, and I appreciate your continued efforts, resiliency, and outstanding contributions through this time.”
Former Disney CEO Bob Chapek, who Iger handpicked to serve as his successor in February 2020, was dismissed by the board of directors after lackluster financial performance under his leadership and replaced with Iger in November 2022. The company’s stock price has declined 17% over the past year, and several other prominent entertainment and technology companies have been forced to dismiss large shares of their employees.
Disney has also lost trust among some consumers after Chapek and other executives involved the firm in contentious culture war battles last year. Disney publicly opposed a parental rights law in Florida that bans instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity to children between kindergarten and third grade. Some 64% of Americans, including 62% of Democrats and 57% of independents, nevertheless supported the law, according to an exclusive poll from The Daily Wire.
Iger expressed regret about the company’s opposition to the policy upon his return and promised that leadership would more carefully listen to consumers in the future. “I was sorry to see us dragged into that battle, and I have no idea exactly what its ramifications are in terms of the business itself,” he told employees. “What I can say is that the state of Florida has been important to us for a long time, and we have been very important to the state of Florida.”
Disclosure: The Daily Wire has announced plans for kids entertainment content.