The Slow Fall of Bob Chapek, and Disney's Long Road to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Part I

The Slow Fall of Bob Chapek, and Disney's Long Road to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Part I

Two years ago this month Walt Disney World and Disneyland closed its gates. As events were unfolding world-wide Bob Chapek was named the CEO of The Walt Disney Company, replacing Bob Iger. While some highlights stand out, it has been a painful experience for most involved during this time period. Much of this has been played out not just during a time of Covid, but during a time frame that stretches from awareness that Black Lives Matter to the present “Don’t Say Gay” legislation happening. In this we not only look at whether Chapek is the “right fit” as CEO, but we address how an organization that promises to be more active in matters of diversity, equity and inclusion can at times be so far away from the goal. Join us on this podcast: The Slow Fall of Bob Chapek, and Disney’s Long Road to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

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Covid in 2020

January 25th, 2020: Shanghai Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland closes its doors due to fears of a Covid outbreak.

February 25th, 2020: Bob Chapek is named the new CEO of The Walt Disney Company, with Bob Iger staying on to support “creative” efforts as Chairman through the end of 2021.

February 29th, 2020: Tokyo Disney Resort announces closing due to fears of a Covid outbreak.

March 12th, 2020: Universal Orlando announces it is closing do to Covid.

March 14th, 2020: Disneyland Paris closes two days earlier than a previously announced closure of March 16th due to Covid.

March 14th, 2020: Disney Cruse Line suspends all sailings temporarily due to Covid.

March 15th, 2020: Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts close at the end of the day due to Covid. All Disney Parks worldwide are now closed.

April 5th, 2021: Salary cuts for C-Suite employees put in motion. Chapek had his salary reduced by 50%. Bob Iger agreed to forgo 100% of his salary. Various decreases in pay for SVPs, EVPs, and VPs were also enacted: VP by 20%, SVPs by 25%, EVP by 30%.

April 12th, 2020: New York Times runs an article interviewing Bob Iger, who insists he would not step away from the company stating: “A crisis of this magnitude, and its impact on Disney, would necessarily result in my actively helping Bob [Chapek] and the company contend with it, particularly since I ran the company for 15 years!” According to three others Bob Chapek is furious with the article.

April 15th, 2020: Three days later after the article, Bob Chapek is elected to the company’s board of directors.

May 20th, 2020: Disney Springs reopens.

May 31st, 2020: The Walt Disney Company releases a statement addressed to all employees in light of the recent unrest following the killing of George Floyd and other instances of lethal attacks and harassment of unarmed black citizens in the United States.

June 3rd, 2020: The Walt Disney Company pledges $5 million to support nonprofit organizations that advance social justice, beginning with a $2 million donation to the NAACP to further their longstanding work promoting social justice by eliminating disparities and racial discrimination through their advocacy and education programs.

June 25th, 2020: It is announced that Splash Mountain at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will be re-imagined with an overlay based on Disney’s The Princess and the Frog.

July 11th & 15th. Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom re-open first, followed by Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios three days later.

August 20th, 2020: Chapek announces that salaries of senior executives would be restored to pre-Covid levels.

September 29th, 2020: Disney begins to permanently eliminate around 28,000 domestic jobs in its theme parks division due to uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, two-thirds of which will be part-time roles.

November 3rd, 2020: Joseph Biden wins the U.S. presidency against Donald Trump. Open Secrets notes that Disney contributed $1,221,545 to that campaign (compared to $1,583,067 by Facebook or $1,885,635 by Apple). During this election cycle Politico notes that in campaign finance reports, Disney donated some $4.8 million to Florida candidates in the 2020 election cycle. They donated $913,000 to the Republican Party of Florida and another $586,000 to GOP Senate campaigns, records show. The company also donated $313,000 to the Florida Democratic Party and $50,000 directly to DeSantis.

Covid in 2021

January 11, 2021: Disney announces that it will be ending Disney’s Magical Express, a program offering complimentary transportation to the parks for some 15 years.

January 25th, 2021: Following the insurrection at the nation’s Capitol, a number of Republican legislators from Florida opposed at least one of the state’s Electoral College results, an action the Walt Disney Company found indefensible and reason to halt donations to such lawmakers. In a statement, Disney says that in the “immediate aftermath of that appalling siege, members of Congress had an opportunity to unite – an opportunity that some sadly refused to embrace. In light of these events, we have decided we will not make political contributions in 2021 to lawmakers who voted to reject the certification of the Electoral College votes.”

April 13th, 2021: The Disney Look is re-imagined “fostering a culture of belonging.”

April 13th, 2021: Disney announces a fifth key of Inclusion to its four keys of Safety, Courtesy, Show and Efficiency.

April 13th, 2021; The press notes that Bob Chapek has purchased a home for $12.5 million in Westlake Village Estates. Close to Calabasas, if you’ve seen Cheaper by the Dozen on Disney+.

April 30th, 2021: Disneyland Resort reopens with a new reservation system in place.

June 17st, 2021: Disneyland Paris Reopens. Disney’s Hotel New York reopens as The Disney Hotel New York: Art of Marvel few weeks later on the 21st.

July 15th, 2021: Josh D’Amaro is “excited” to announce that more than 2,000 Cast, Imagineers and employees will be relocating from Glendale, California to Lake Nona, Florida.

June 24th, 2021: Avengers Campus opens at Disney California Adventure.

July 16th, 2021: Jungle Cruise reopens at Disneyland with modified scenes more respectful of native Africans. Walt Disney World reopens their attraction around the same time.

July 29th, 2021: Scarlett Johansson files a lawsuit on July 29, after the Disney+ Premier release of the Covid-delayed Black Widow on July 9, the same day it debuted in cinemas. The response takes the legal action as showing a “callous disregard” to the Covid-19 pandemic, and that Johansson has already made 20 million already.

August 3rd, 2021: Disneyland announces its Magic Key program for annual pass holders. The Dream Key tier will “sell out” late October.

August 9th, 2021: Disney Cruise Line commences operations again with strict anti-Covid protocols. Disney Dream sails first.

October 1st, 2021: Walt Disney World turns 50. Remy’s Ratatouille and Harmonious open at Epcot. Enchantment opens at Magic Kingdom.

October 19th, 2021: Introduction of Genie+ and Lightning Lanes at Walt Disney World.

November 18th, 2021: Bob Chapek fails to appear at D23 in Walt Disney World. It is believed that he “needed” to attend Bob Iger’s farewell dinner in Iger’s home on Friday night.

November 22nd, 2021: Walt Disney World stops sales of top three tiers of annual passes.

November 24th, 2021: Encanto premieres, and soon no one is talking about Bruno.

December 8th: Genie & Genie+ debuts at Disneyland Resort.

December 31st, 2021: Disney+ has some 130 million subscribers.

Stay tuned as in our next podcast we’ll cover the events of 2022 which have increased the strain and challenges around inclusion and Bob Chapek.

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