For years, The Walt Disney Company has been sparring against someone who has incredibly close ties with the company — Abigail Disney. Abigail Disney is the daughter of Roy E. Disney and the granddaughter of Roy O. Disney — Walt’s brother and the force behind the Walt Disney World Resort after Walt died. Years ago, Ms. Disney gave up a large amount of her stock in the company and since, has frequently called out The Walt Disney Company for what she feels are outrageous executive salaries and too-low employee wages.
Earlier this year, The Walt Disney Company and CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against Florida’s controversial “Parental Rights in Education” bill, which led to an all-out battle between the company and the state of Florida. Things got so bad that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his fellow state Republicans worked to get a bill passed that essentially strips Disney of its right to self-govern. In turn, Chapek announced that the company was pausing all political donations in the state and apologized to Disney Cast Members for “letting them down”.
Now, Abigail Disney is telling Disney to prove it paused the donations.
Ms. Disney sat down for an interview with IndieWire and spoke out about the missteps she thinks Disney has made and that they need to prove that they stand behind the statements that they make.
“If he has [paused donations], he needs to prove to us that he has,” she said. “I think in the last three consecutive years, there have been shareholder proposals around Disney being transparent about their political contributions. And in every case, management has recommended against voting for that. Why? Why are they averse to any transparency on their political contributions? That seems to me something that should be the law, that every corporation should have to be transparent about its political contributions. So if they’re against transparency, then I would dare to assume they haven’t changed much of anything.”
While Ms. Disney questions why The Walt Disney Company doesn’t want to be transparent in where its political donations are going, she does support the company speaking up against the “Parental Rights” bill — also called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. She also supports the company covering abortion travel expenses in the aftermath of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“I’m glad they said that. I hope it’s true. I mean frankly, for Disney, that’s a very courageous position and I commend it,” said Disney. “There’s the thing that gets said at corporate and then the way it actually gets put into place for people at the bottom, and there’s always a gulf between these things. That’s why I say it was a courageous position to take. I have no way of knowing whether or not in fact it’s going to happen. … It’s a very significant number of conservatives who really, really, really love Disney and they are in a position right now where they have been threatened with boycotts. So I felt that it was a strong position to take for Disney.”
These days, Ms. Disney’s relationship with both Bob Chapek and former Disney CEO Bob Iger is non-existent. Ms. Disney has said that her relationship with Iger — who she said she likes — is non-existent because she spoke up against the company’s treatment of its workers. She has also called out Iger and Chapek for how much money they make — which is more than 1,000 times the amount of the average Cast Member. Ms. Disney has even created a documentary about the treatment of Cast Members called The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales.
At the most recent Board of Directors meeting, Disney once again voted against being transparent about where its political donations were going.
The Company has not responded to Ms. Disney’s request to prove that they paused political donations.