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As LGBT employees at Disney get ready to stage a walkout on March 22 over Disney’s attempt to remain neutral on Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” bill, conservative staffers have issued an open letter of their own.
Published Monday and provided to The Daily Wire in advance, the authors reveal that they do not feel safe in their jobs and say that Disney has “come to be an increasingly uncomfortable place to work for those of us whose political and religious views are not explicitly progressive.” The staffers say they’ve watched silently as Disney villainizes and condemns political leaders who share their opinions:
Over the last few weeks, we have watched as our leadership has expressed their condemnation for laws and policies we support. We have watched as our colleagues, convinced that no one in the company could possibly disagree with them, grow increasingly aggressive in their demands. They insist that TWDC [The Walt Disney Company] take a strong stance on not only this issue but other legislation and openly advocate for the punishment of employees who disagree with them…
Left-leaning cast members are free to promote their agenda and organize on company time using company resources. They call their fellow employees ‘bigots’ and pressure TWDC to use corporate influence to further their left-wing legislative goals.
Rather than demanding the company issue statements on proposed laws and use its influence to pressure legislators, the conservative staffers behind the letter — who published anonymously out of fear of retaliation — are instead asking the company to stay out of politics.
Citing “Hamilton” and “The Mandalorian” as unifying content, they argue that Disney is more valuable as a business and a cultural institution when audiences from across the political spectrum feel free to enjoy the entertainment it produces. They are inviting the public to join them in asking the company to stay politically neutral.
One of the employees, who works in the Imagineering department designing attractions in Disney theme parks, told The Daily Wire that he’s had three close colleagues leave his division in just the last nine months because of the increasingly hostile work environment. “No matter what department or what segment, we’ve been watching the [diversity, equity, and inclusion] takeover of Disney accelerate to breakneck speeds, and God help you if you get caught standing in front of the train.”
Another, an engineer, described the open letter as “kind of a last-ditch effort to appeal to senior leadership that may agree with us but lack the courage to say anything because they feel all alone themselves.”
Some senior leadership is listening.
One high-level studio executive, who spoke to The Daily Wire on the condition of anonymity, said they, too, were concerned that the company is damaging its brand by abandoning the political neutrality that many hoped the more-conservative Bob Chapek would usher in when he replaced liberal Bob Iger as CEO.
At first, Chapek seemed to stick to that position when he issued a memo to employees saying that Disney would not publicly weigh in on Florida’s HB 1577, a law that prevents teachers from discussing sex and gender identity with children before the fourth grade without parents’ consent.
Instead, our source said, Chapek faced his own Disney “deep state” of leftover Iger hires intent on undermining that goal. They took to social media and leaked comments to Hollywood trade publications prompting Chapek to reverse course in a move the exec says was motivated by “cowardice and stupidity.”
“Now they’re not going to leave him alone. They will not stop,” the exec said. “So he really has two choices: Just castrate himself or stand up to them.”
The executive also revealed that Disney’s C-suite is aware of polling done by The Daily Wire that shows that 64 percent of Americans and 68 percent of parents support the “Parental Rights in Education” bill. They also know that a plurality of people say Disney’s stance against it will make them less likely to buy Disney products. But the exec says they’re more afraid of their employees than their consumers.
When asked if the company has any concern about the feelings of its conservative staffers, the executive told us, “The short answer is no.”
This was evidenced by a company-wide meeting Monday afternoon in which Disney leadership told employees that they are going on a “listening tour” in relation to the Florida bill. Leaders also announced during that meeting that the company is pledging to take action against an order from Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott that bans medical transition for children. They said the company has signed a Human Rights Campaign petition opposing Abbott.
Disney did not immediately respond to The Daily Wire’s request for comment.
Here is the full text of the conservative Disney employee’s letter, which is open for public signatures.
As employees of the Walt Disney Company, we believe in the dignity of all people. This is why we do what we do. We write stories. We make costumes. We act in parades. We run cruises. We stream movies. We make magic. We do this because our work contributes to a fountain of wonder that inspires joy, awe, and delight in guests and audiences of all ages. We are proud employees of the Walt Disney Company. We love our jobs because we get to share the wonder of life and human experience with millions of people worldwide.
However, over the last few years, one group of cast members has become invisible within the company. The Walt Disney Company has come to be an increasingly uncomfortable place to work for those of us whose political and religious views are not explicitly progressive. We watch quietly as our beliefs come under attack from our own employer, and we frequently see those who share our opinions condemned as villains by our own leadership.
The company’s evolving response to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation in Florida has left many of us wondering what place we have in a company actively promoting a political agenda so far removed from our own. TWDC leadership frequently communicates its commitment to creating an inclusive workplace where cast members feel comfortable sharing their perspectives and being their authentic selves at work. That is not our workplace experience.
Over the last few weeks, we have watched as our leadership has expressed their condemnation for laws and policies we support. We have watched as our colleagues, convinced that no one in the company could possibly disagree with them, grow increasingly aggressive in their demands. They insist that TWDC take a strong stance on not only this issue but other legislation and openly advocate for the punishment of employees who disagree with them.
An internal poll within the company went out a few months ago asking us if we felt accepted in the company. Many of us didn’t complete it because the nature of the questions made us worry that the results of the poll could be used to target us for quietly holding a position that runs against the progressive orthodoxy that Disney seems to promote. TWDC has fostered an environment of fear that any employee who does not toe the line will be exposed and dismissed.
Much has been made of our internal efforts to Reimagine Tomorrow, but as much as diversity and inclusion are promoted, the tomorrow being reimagined doesn’t seem to have much room for religious or political conservatives within the company. Left-leaning cast members are free to promote their agenda and organize on company time using company resources. They call their fellow employees “bigots” and pressure TWDC to use corporate influence to further their left-wing legislative goals.
Meanwhile, those of us who don’t align with this vision keep our heads down and do our work without bringing our personal beliefs into the workplace. We’ve done this without complaint because we don’t want to rock the boat, but the boat is being rocked, and our leadership seems compelled to reward those who are rocking it.
Employees who want TWDC to make left-wing political statements are encouraged, while those of us who want the company to remain neutral can say so only in a whisper out of fear of professional retaliation. The company we love seems to think we don’t exist or don’t belong here. This politicization of our corporate culture is damaging morale and causing many of us to feel our days with TWDC might be numbered.
Furthermore, as this politicization makes its way into our content and public messaging, our more conservative customers will feel similarly unwanted. You can only preach at or vilify your audience for so long before they decide to spend their money elsewhere.
Working for The Walt Disney Company is a dream come true. We love being part of creating the magic that so many people around the world enjoy. Our storytelling is second to none. It resonates with people from all walks of life across the political spectrum. Our parks are the source of joy and inspiration that Walt hoped they would become. Every year, millions of guests escape an increasingly divided world to a place where they can relive fond memories of the past and savor the challenge and promise of the future. They do this alongside thousands of other guests that might not have anything in common with them other than a shared love of Disney.
The unique brand of family entertainment that Disney is known for is an objective good in this dark world. It brings people together and provides cultural touchpoints that even the worst enemies can unite over. At the height of COVID lockdowns in the Summer of 2020 when the country was fiercely divided over a range of issues, Hamilton provided us something to collectively celebrate. At the end of an incredibly contentious election year, The Mandalorian was there to soothe a weary nation with non-political entertainment we could all enjoy no matter who you voted for. When Disney takes sides in political debates, they deprive the world of a shared love we all have in common. TWDC is uniquely situated to provide experiences and entertainment that can bridge our national divide and bring us all together.
CEO, Bob Chapek had the right idea in his original statement that he has since walked back. In Chapek’s own words, “As we have seen time and again, corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds. … Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame.” Disney is far more important and impactful to the world by avoiding politics than it will ever be by embracing a political agenda. By focusing on entertainment that inspires us with stories of universal appeal, we are doing good in the world.
Disney shouldn’t be a vehicle for one demographic’s political activism. It’s so much bigger and more important than that. More than ever, the world needs things that we can unite around. That’s the most valuable role The Walt Disney Company could play in the world at this time. It’s a role we’ve played for nearly a century, and it would be a shame to throw all of that away in the face of left-wing political pressure. Please don’t let Disney become just another thing we divide over.