Forbes blasted Disney in their latest article.
I’ve been sitting on this article for a while, allowing my opinion to form. That’s something that many companies don’t do enough of these days. Instead, they often rush to conclusions too fast, yielding to the views of a few vocal members of the community rather than allowing time and consideration to inform decisions.
The latest example is Disney’s DIS +0.6% firing of Gina Carano from The Mandalorian in February. She is a conservative who is not shy about expressing her views, the latest being a comment that compared conservatives being silenced and canceled today to Jews being targeted during the Holocaust.
An exaggerated comparison? Yes. But enough to fire her? Doubtful. She’s more guilty of a bad comparison. Gina should have likened today’s conservative cancel culture to the 1950s Congressional hearings held to expose entertainment people who were members or sympathizers of the Communist Party. Ten influential actors and screenwriters were eventually jailed and blacklisted by the major movie studios for denouncing the hearings and refusing to name those who had expressed Communist sympathies. That’s a better comparative. Ironically, when Disney fired Gina for her opinions it inadvertently proved her point.
We can disagree as to whether Disney was justified or not in firing Gina, but one thing is clear; Disney’s management of its social responsibility persona is woefully flawed.
To begin, the company’s approach is confusing. Many assert that Pedro Pascal, star of The Mandalorian, offered similar analogies that Carano did, though with a liberal bent, when he shared a now deleted Instagram post comparing Donald Trump voters to Nazis. Pascal kept his job. Carano did not. Disney’s inconsistent approach led outsiders to suspect that Disney leans left, something that CEO Bob Chapek denied at the recent shareholders meeting by stating, “I don’t really see Disney as characterizing itself as left-leaning or right-leaning, yet instead standing for values — Values that are universal.” But management cannot afford to treat employees differently for similar actions. It makes Chapek’s comments appear disingenuous. The company needs a universally consistent approach for its universal values.
Disney’s actions also appear hypocritical. At the same shareholders meeting, Bob Chapek went on to say that Disney believes in, “Values of respect, values of decency, values of integrity and values of inclusion. And we seek to have not only how we operate, but the content that we make reflective of the rich diversity of the world that we live in. And I think that’s a world that we all should live in, in harmony and peace.” That’s a noble goal, well said. But while Disney shapes and declares these aspirations for U.S. consumption, it turned a blind eye to China when the company shot Mulan in the same Chinese province where the government forced millions of Uighur Muslims into internment camps. Disney went on to thank several government bodies in the film’s credits. This signals that human rights and social responsibility are fine as long as they do not cost Disney any money in important markets. Disney never had an adequate response.