This is what winning looks like.
In private meetings and coaching sessions over the past few weeks, top business leaders have been asking a version of the same question: How can we avoid becoming the next Walt Disney Co.?
After decades of Republican governors caving to woke corporate pressure, afraid to pay a price for social conservatism, Gov. DeSantis instead made Disney pay a price for even trying to intimidate Florida.
The message that was sent has gone far beyond Disney. It has, hopefully, encouraged other Republicans to grow a spine and it has frightened woke CEOs who no longer think of conservative states as sitting ducks.
But Disney’s recent experience in Florida has captured the attention of C-suite executives at companies big and small, given the impact on its operations, many say.
“I think probably anybody sitting in a leadership role follows it to some degree,” said Julie Schertell, chief executive of Alpharetta, Ga.-based manufacturing company Neenah Inc., which has around 2,500 employees.
Staying silent has its own risks. Disney initially declined to take a public stance against the Florida bill, which bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity through third grade. Disney CEO Bob Chapek told employees he didn’t want the company to become a “political football.” That sparked an outcry from some employees, and Disney reversed course and spoke out against the bill.
And is paying the price.
The next CEO is going to have to weigh whether he wants to offend the internal DEI Red Guard or Republican state officials who can actually hurt his company.
Gov. DeSantis did that.