Disney’s Diversity Tale Of 2 Bobs: Written, Directed and Staring the Former CEO and His Successor
We’ll keep wishing on a star for power and privilege to stop defining diversity
Let me preface this piece before people read the headline and respond thinking I’m saying that Black and other people of color (POC) should always lead diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) departments or initiatives. I’m not — especially if it’s solely for the sake of tokenism, but representation matter and so does cultural competency when dealing with American corporation’s lack of diversity in work, marketing, media and creative projects.
Disney recently announced the leaders of their “dual diversity councils” (CBR.com) and doesn’t this picture scream diversity?
Both Bobs are already in leadership roles at Disney. Bob Chapek, is Bob Iger’s successor as Disney’s CEO and Iger is still a board chairman. Do we really think either Bob is going to hold the other Bob accountable or really push for serious change? Bob Iger didn’t start making changes to Splash Mountain until people complained about the plantation themed park attraction based on the movie, Song of The South. Both the movie and theme park were filled with romanticized Black stereotypes like Uncle Remus happily singing about his enslavement.
According to Cnet.com, Iger said he wouldn’t be adding Song of the South to Disney Plus streaming platform, but he still let the attraction and song remain at the theme park until there were further complaints.
Under the Bobs’ leadership, Disney tried to pay the Tony and Grammy winning, Black lead of Hamilton, Leslie Odom, Jr. less than the barely known white lead in Grease Live! Odom had to demand equal pay — not more, but equal pay to a white man who are in significantly different levels in their careers. Disney wouldn’t insult an up and coming white actor with what they offered Odom. Yet, they offered the veteran talent less.
The Odom pay controversy is a huge example of how Disney hasn’t addressed pay equity. Outside of firing an actor for making anti-Semitic comments (who probably shouldn’t have been hired in the first place)… They’re not looking too good with past or current diversity, equity an inclusion practices or policies.
History and current corporate culture have shown a pattern of deep rooted racism, bias, discriminatory practices and cover ups in policies, hiring, promotion and compensation. Not to mention, the countless stories of toxic work culture and racial battle fatigue from employees of color. These issues continue to make headlines demonstrating that very little improvements have been made under the status quo of white leadership. How are we suppose to have faith that things will suddenly change now?
I think both Bobs should hire an outside Black or minority owned firm to conduct an objective, independent diversity audit, review their plan and provide recommendations to improve the current and future diversity initiatives. Secondly, an outside firm would provide a safe buffer between the Bobs, Disney leadership and individuals or departments that may have issues and complaints.
I’m curious as to who were the other choices and how did they end up choosing themselves — the current and former CEOs of Disney. How could they be the ideal candidates to lead diversity initiatives for one of the biggest media and entertainment companies in the world with a substantial history of racist and sexist stories and cartoons?
Two rich white men, who happen to be the old and new guard choosing themselves as the best candidates to improve or increase diversity is biased and the board should have pushed back — but I guess I’ll be wishing on a whole bunch of stars before that happens.
Just in case one of the Bobs or someone on their team is reading — I’ve written a few pieces on the subject that include a short list of firms that could help them build an actual culturally competent team, policies and procedures to really expand diversity, equity and inclusion at Disney and all their companies.
Wanted: A Few Good Black Men and Women -The Myth of “Missing Black Talent”
Fighting to be seen, heard, and hired
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