As we announced last week, Bob Iger held a town hall style meeting today with employees about his plans moving forward for The Walt Disney Company. Iger started the morning sharing his excitement to be back, via Twitter:
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) November 28, 2022
There was a ton of speculation about what would be shared in the meeting this morning. Would there be huge changes going forward? Cast Members and fans alike speculated, and today we got some direction from the CEO himself.
First, prior to being let go as CEO, Chapek had announced a hiring freeze. In a memo sent out to employees, “Hiring for the small subset of the most critical, business-driving positions will continue, but all other roles are on hold”. (CNBC) This was in response to poor quarterly earnings, with company shares “hitting a new 52-week low”. Chapek was looking for ways to trim costs in other ways as well, by calling on executives to limit business travel, and to attend meetings virtually whenever possible. Many asked, would Iger uphold this hiring freeze? At today’s meeting, we learned the freeze is here to stay. “It felt like it was a wise thing to do in terms of the challenges”, Iger stated, “and at the moment, I don’t have any plans to change it”. (CNBC).
Next, one of those most notable flaws with Chapek’s time as CEO was his poor response to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. At a time when LGBTQ+ employees were looking to their leader for support, his lack of a response spoke volumes. Only after public outcry, and threats of walkouts by employees, did Chapek share his feelings on the importance of inclusivity and diversity. By some, this statement (and apology that followed) was considered too little too late. At the meeting today, employees who were concerned with Iger’s stance were give a lot of reassurance. Iger made it clear today that “one of the core values of our storytelling is inclusion, and acceptance and tolerance. And we can’t lose that, we just can’t lose that… how we actually change the world through the good must continue. 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”. (Variety) Many at the meeting shared that the response from Iger came with “little hesitation”, giving them confidence in Iger and his strong stance going forward.
Employees that have continued working from home post-Covid learned today that their time being remote might be coming to an end. According to Variety, “Iger spoke of the importance of working side-by-side in person”. According to those at today’s meeting, it seemed Iger isn’t thrilled with having employees working remotely any longer. More on this to come, as we learn what the plans are for those still working from home.
Among one of the more controversial topics among Park Guests is the Park Reservation system. Since being put into place for Parks Guests as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Guests have had a love-hate relationship with the system. When asked today about it, Iger shared that he has plans to talk to Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, about the system. With full transparency, he shared that he has never personally used the system since it was instituted in 2020, and is aware of the mixed feelings Guests have about it. Will the meeting with D’Amaro make progress towards ending the Park Reservation system? Only time will tell.
What do you think of the announcements at today’s meeting? As Bob Iger makes changes to The Walt Disney Company in the days and weeks ahead, we’ve got you covered. Stay tuned to Streaming the Magic for the latest!