Conservative employees at Disney say that the company's activism on behalf of left-wing causes and the "increasingly aggressive" demands of progressive employees have "fostered an environment of fear," in which people with different opinions have become isolated and even been bullied for their views.
In an open letter published Monday and first reported by the Daily Wire, an anonymous employees of the Walt Disney Company warned that by embracing a "political agenda," the company is creating an exclusive workplace and will alienate customers who do not agree with the left. The employees also said 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 letter came after left-leaning former and current employees demanded that Disney do more to oppose Florida's "Parental Rights in Education" bill, which has been mischaracterized as "Don't Say Gay" legislation. The controversial measure will ban discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade and restrict that subject matter to "age-appropriate" materials at higher grade levels. The legislature passed the bill, and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign it into law.
Initially, Disney did not take a position on the Florida bill. But after left-wing employees and outside groups pressured the company, CEO Bob Chapek apologized for not being a "stronger ally in the fight for equal rights." Disney has since announced several measures to support LGBTQ+ groups and is reviewing its political donations in Florida, but the left says this is not enough.
Progressive Disney employees are demanding that the company permanently cut off donations to lawmakers who supported the parental rights bill. Additionally, they want the company to stop relocating employees to the state and halt construction and investment there until the bill is defeated, or repealed if it becomes law. Employees are staging a walkout Tuesday in protest of Disney's perceived inaction.
Disney released the following statement in response to plans for the walkout:
Disney Parks, Experiences and Products is committed to creating experiences that support family values for every family, and will not stand for discrimination in any form. We oppose any legislation that infringes on basic human rights, and stand in solidarity and support our LGBTQIA+ cast, crew, guests and fans who make their voices heard today and every day.
But conservative employees said in their letter that Disney does not give them the same "solidarity and support" their left-leaning colleagues expect and demand. "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 conservatives said.
"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," the letter said.
Progressives at Disney are "convinced that no one in the company could possibly disagree with them," the letter stated. The conservatives said that they are called "bigots" and that their colleagues "openly advocate for the punishment of employees who disagree with them." Disney's effort to promote "diversity and inclusion" within the company "doesn’t seem to have much room for religious or political conservatives." While progressives are "free to promote their agenda and organize on company time using company resources," the conservatives said they "keep our heads down and do our work without bringing our personal beliefs into the workplace."
"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 letter stated. "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."
The letter asked Disney to correct course by staying politically neutral. Calling products like "Hamilton" and "The Mandalorian" unifying, the conservatives said that the "unique brand of family entertainment that Disney is known for is an objective good in this dark world."
"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," the letter stated.
"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."