Disney's 'Don't Say Gay' misstep holds a key lesson

CEOs are human-rights leaders now, whether they like it or not


April 29, 2022 / Insider - Corporate leaders are having to get political, whether they like it or not.

  • A strategist said Disney's response to the so-called Don't Say Gay law "didn't please anyone."

  • Advisors say CEOs need to adapt quickly because the social-outrage machine is not going away.

The Walt Disney Company has always meant to evoke happiness and magic.

But the company is at the center of an ugly cultural and political battle because of its response to the GOP's new Parental Rights in Education law in Florida, where Disney employs some 60,000 workers.

Opponents call the law "Don't Say Gay" because it restricts instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in schools and bans it in kindergarten through third grade. LGBTQ advocates also argue the law could lead to teachers outing their students.


Jon Henes, the CEO of C Street Advisory Group, a business consultancy, said Disney's Chapek isn't the only one struggling with this new era of business. "Whether today's CEOs signed up for it or not, we cannot be just business leaders, we need to be human-rights leaders," Henes said.


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