Returning Disney CEO Bob Iger wants the company to veer away from involving itself in hot-button cultural issues.
Mr. Iger responded to several questions at an internal town hall with Disney employees, according to independent journalist Christopher Rufo.
“Do I like the company being embroiled in controversy? Of course not,” Mr. Iger said in response to a suggestion that staffers wished Disney stayed out of politics. “It can be distracting, and it can have a negative impact on the company. And to the extent that I can work to kind of quiet things down, I’m going to do that.”
The returning CEO, who was brought back last week to replace successor Bob Chapek in a surprise move by Disney’s board, also lamented the damaged relationship the family entertainment giant has with the state of Florida.
The public fight between Disney and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over what critics call the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill doled a major blow to the company’s standing.
After Mr. Chapek, the former CEO, said that the company shouldn’t become involved in politics, Disney employees excoriated his position, causing Disney executives to change their stance and urge Mr. DeSantis to not sign the bill.
It eventually led to the state legislature stripping Disney of its special administrative status.
“I was sorry to see us dragged into that battle,” Mr. Iger said. “The state of Florida has been important to us for a long time. And we have been very important to the state of Florida. That is something I’m extremely mindful of and will articulate if I get the chance.”
Mr. Iger did emphasize that “inclusion” remains an important value to the company but that Disney needs to “listen to [its] audience” and “have respect for the people that [it’s] serving” when living out that value.
The returning CEO, who originally left the company in 2020, will maintain the hiring freeze already in place and also wants employees to return to the office, according to Variety.