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Disney’s top Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) officer will be leaving the entertainment giant to “pursue other endeavors” as the company continues to face headwinds from conservative customers over its promotion of LGBT themes and battles with Florida Republicans, according to a memo obtained by Variety.
An internal memo sent to employees this week announced that Latondra Newton, the company’s chief DEI officer and senior vice president, would be moving on from the company, Variety reported Tuesday. Newton will reportedly be moving to a board at a different corporation after six years at Disney.
“I’m writing to share the news that Latondra Newton has decided to leave The Walt Disney Company to pursue other endeavors,” the internal memo obtained by Variety read. “Working alongside all of you and so many others, she has inspired countless cast members and employees to bring about lasting change and to help create a world where we can all feel safe and we all belong.”
Julie Merges, currently a human resources executive at the company, will be the interim top DEI officer while a hiring search is conducted.
At Disney, Newton worked “with various business segments and leaders across the enterprise to build on Disney’s commitment to produce entertainment that reflects a global audience and sustains a welcoming and inclusive workplace for everyone,” according to the company.
Newton signed on to a letter from top Disney executives taking aim at “racial disparities” following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis resolving to pursue “real change.”
“The recent killing of George Floyd as well as other instances of lethal attacks and harassment of unarmed black citizens in our nation continue to drive outrage and calls for action by people of all cultural backgrounds, including many of our employees,” the May 2020 letter said. “We also realize that now more than ever is the time for us all to further strengthen our commitment to diversity and inclusion everywhere.”
Under Newton, Disney also began its “Reimagine Tomorrow” program which focused on “representation” for a host of different groups including increasing “gender diversity,” “Black Representation,” “Female empowerment,” “Diverse Families,” “LGBTQIA+ Representation,” and “Middle Eastern Representation.”
In recent years, Disney has come under fire from some customers over its insertion of LGBT themes into children’s content, including the inclusion of a gay kiss into the 2022 “Lightyear” film which flopped at the box office. The company also voiced opposition to a Florida law intended to shield kids from being taught gender ideology and sexual topics in the classroom.
The company has also faced backlash online after video emerged of a man in a dress welcoming small children into a Disneyland boutique full of princess costumes.
Disclosure: The Daily Wire has announced plans for kids entertainment content.