The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday that all race-based hiring practices under its control would end. This follows trends happening in other parts of the country as movements to end preferential treatment are halted for race and gender based hiring practices.
According to recent reports, District Administrator Glen Gilzean said Reedy Creek’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs discriminated against Americans based on race and gender and cost “taxpayers millions of dollars.” The loss, he says, is due to preferential treatment for contractors.
“Our district will no longer participate in any attempt to divide us by race or advance the notion that we are not created equal,” said Gilzean, who was head of the Central Florida Urban League before DeSantis appointed him to the CFTOD earlier this year.
Glizean went on to say that Reedy Creek, the former controlling district for Walt Disney World, imposed quotas to ensure diversity in the workplace and awarded contracts, not to the lowest bidder or most qualified, but to contractors who shared the racial and gender hiring initiatives. If a contractor did not keep up with their race and gender quotas, Gilzean said Reedy Creek would threaten them with nonpayment and/or denial of future contracts.
Disney officials have not commented on the board’s ruling. This however comes on the heels of The Walt Disney Company’s Chief Diversity Officer LaTondra Newton, being ousted in June.
Those who oppose the measure say that it is a drastic blow to inclusion in the workplace. Carlos Guillermo Smith, a former state representative from Orlando who is running for state Senate, said diversity programs “are critical to ensuring minority-owned businesses have the opportunity to compete and reflect the diversity of our local community.”
It is important to note that the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District’s ruling only applies to areas where the CFTOD has authority. This includes infrastructure including roads, water and sewer and police and fire protection, and future development of the Disney World property, but not the theme parks themselves. Disney still controls Cast Member hiring and the CFTOD ruling has no impact on that.