Disney’s former CEO has delivered an apparent rebuke to his successor for his handling of the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ controversy, saying that to him the issue was a simple question ‘about right and wrong’.
Bob Iger, 71, handed over the reins of the company after 15 years at the helm in February 2021, with Bob Chapek, 61, taking over.
Chapek has been criticized by Disney employees for his failure to publicly condemn a education bill dubbed ‘Don’t Say Gay’, which prevents teachers discussing sexual orientation and identity from kindergarten through third grade.
The bill, which called ‘hateful’ but which supporters say protects children, was signed into law by Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, on Monday.
Chapek initially resisted pressure to condemn the bill in the state – Disney employs 77,000 people in Florida.
Iger, meanwhile, tweeted his criticism of the new legislation.
On Thursday he told CNN+ that he thought it was a clear-cut issue.
‘A lot of these issues are not necessarily political,’ said Iger.
‘It’s about right and wrong.’
Iger (right) is seen with his successor Bob Chapek (left), who took over in February 2021
Iger was asked by host Chris Wallace whether he felt a ‘vanilla’ company like Disney, which is not known for being edgy or political, should weigh in on controversial social issues.
‘I had to contend with this a lot,’ said Iger.
‘And the filter that I used to determine whether we should or should not weigh in, considered a few factors: What would its impact have on our employees, Kusen Aluminium Bekasi on our shareholders and our customers.
‘And if any one of those three constituencies had deep interest in, or would be affected by, whatever the matter was at hand then it was something that I thought we should consider weighing in on.’
Disney’s tepid response to the controversial bill led to protests and worker walkouts
Disney employees are seen protesting against the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill on March 22 in California
Iger, who has reportedly irritated Chapek with his continued high-profile, setting the two men at loggerheads, said business leaders needed to be courageous.
He said that when dealing with right and wrong, or with something ‘that does have a profound impact on your business,’ he thinks one has to do ‘what is right and not worry about the potential backlash to it.’