Returning Disney CEO Bob Iger said during an employee town hall held Monday that he won’t reverse plans to freeze new hiring at the company.
The move had been announced by the now-deposed Bob Chapek on Nov. 11, following Disney missing on Wall Street estimates. Nine days later, Chapek was abruptly fired and Iger was reinstated, but Iger said of the freeze, “It felt like it was a wise thing to do in terms of the challenges, and at the moment, I don’t have any plans to change it,” according to CNBC.
The earlier memo did not mention which divisions of the company would be affected by the freeze and potential layoffs. Eric Clinton, president of Unite Here Local 362, which represents attractions, custodial, and vacation planning workers at Disney World, told the Orlando Sentinel that he did not expect those measures would affect the Florida resort. Clinton’s union is among those in the 42,000-member Services Trades Council Union currently negotiating a new contract with Disney World, with talks set to resume Tuesday and Thursday.
While Iger did not announce any changes for Disney’s theme parks during Monday’s town hall, he did touch on two issues that could affect Disney World. When asked about the company’s stance on inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community, Iger said “one of the core values of our storytelling is inclusion, and acceptance and tolerance.”
Appearing to reference the political firestorm over the Florida law dubbed by its opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation — which Iger had publicly opposed — Iger said, “We’re not going to make everyone happy all the time, and we’re not [going to] try to. We’re certainly not going to lessen our core values in order to make everyone happy all the time.”
Disney’s stance angered Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republicans, who quickly passed a law to dissolve the Disney-run Reedy Creek Improvement District covering Disney World in June 2023. When asked about the ramifications of the Reedy Creek law, Iger said he had “no idea,” according to the Hollywood Reporter, adding “The state of Florida has been very important to us for a long time, and we have been very important to the state of Florida.”
The law also led to employees at Walt Disney Imagineering opposing a planned move of the division to the Lake Nona community in Orlando by 2026. Iger did not say whether he would cancel or move forward with the relocation during his town hall, only commenting that it “is something that I will look into.”
The new/old CEO did address rumors that he was pursuing a sale of Disney to Apple, calling that talk “pure speculation” and asserting he had no plans to make a major acquisition during his second tenure as chief executive.