A group of anonymous employees at The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) has spoken out in an open letter, warning the company not to take political stances that alienate some workers and parts of Disney's audience, and claiming that Disney has become "an increasingly uncomfortable place to work" for those who don't agree with "explicitly progressive" policies.
The employees heaped praise on Disney, noting that "our work contributes to a fountain of wonder that inspires joy, awe, and delight in guests and audiences of all ages." However, they warned that "over the last few years, one group of cast members has become invisible within the company."
"The Walt Disney Company has come to be an increasingly uncomfortable place to work for those of us whose political and religious views are not explicitly progressive," the employees wrote. "We watch quietly as our beliefs come under attack from our own employer, and we frequently see those who share our opinions condemned as villains by our own leadership."
The employees noted Disney's "Reimagine Tomorrow" campaign to promote "underrepresented voices" and noted that "the tomorrow being reimagined doesn’t seem to have much room for religious or political conservatives within the company. Left-leaning cast members are free to promote their agenda and organize on company time using company resources. They call their fellow employees ‘bigots’ and pressure TWDC to use corporate influence to further their left-wing legislative goals."
The employees recounted their experience with an internal poll "asking us if we felt accepted in the company."
"Many of us didn’t complete it because the nature of the questions made us worry that the results of the poll could be used to target us for quietly holding a position that runs against the progressive orthodoxy that Disney seems to promote," the employees wrote. "TWDC has fostered an environment of fear that any employee who does not toe the line will be exposed and dismissed."
The open letter, published Monday, came amid protests in which pro-LGBTQ employees demanded that Disney take a firmer stance against Florida H.B. 1557, a parental rights in education bill that Democrats have branded a "Don't Say Gay" bill (despite the bill not banning the word "gay").
Initially, the company did not take a public position on the bill, but CEO Bob Chapek later spoke out against it at a shareholders meeting following its passage. He then announced a pause on political donations in Florida, and vowed that Disney would contribute millions more to LGBTQ causes. Chapek also promised to meet with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to express his and Disney's opposition to the legislation.
Disney employees staged a walkout Tuesday, slamming Chapek's delay in condemning the bill. They demanded that the company indefinitely cease all campaign donations to politicians who voted for the bill, end all investment in Florida until the bill is repealed, make "substantial contributions" to human rights groups, and expand the company's LGBTQ content.
The employees referenced the broader pressure campaign in their letter.
"The company’s evolving response to the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation in Florida has left many of us wondering what place we have in a company actively promoting a political agenda so far removed from our own," they wrote.
"Over the last few weeks, we have watched as our leadership has expressed their condemnation for laws and policies we support," the employees added. "We have watched as our colleagues, convinced that no one in the company could possibly disagree with them, grow increasingly aggressive in their demands. They insist that TWDC take a strong stance on not only this issue but other legislation and openly advocate for the punishment of employees who disagree with them."
"Employees who want TWDC to make left-wing political statements are encouraged, while those of us who want the company to remain neutral can say so only in a whisper out of fear of professional retaliation," they added. "The company we love seems to think we don’t exist or don’t belong here. This politicization of our corporate culture is damaging morale and causing many of us to feel our days with TWDC might be numbered."
The employees warned that this "politicization" may make "our more conservative customers feel similarly unwanted."
The workers emphasized that they do not intend to attack Disney. "Working for The Walt Disney Company is a dream come true," they wrote. "The unique brand of family entertainment that Disney is known for is an objective good in this dark world. It brings people together and provides cultural touchpoints that even the worst enemies can unite over."
The employees praised Chapek's original response to the Florida law. "As we have seen time and again, corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds," Chapek had written. "Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame."
"Disney is far more important and impactful to the world by avoiding politics than it will ever be by embracing a political agenda," the employees wrote. "Disney shouldn’t be a vehicle for one demographic’s political activism." They argued that "the world needs things that we can unite around" and urged the company's leadership not to "let Disney become just another thing we divide over."
"Disney is certainly taking sides on political issues in inexplicably radical ways," Scott Shepard, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project, told FOX Business. "Polling shows that even a majority of Democrats in Florida support this anti-groomer law that would simply stop public school teachers, who are paid with all taxpayers' money, from talking about sex -- of any kind -- to 5- to 9-year-olds who themselves want to talk about dinosaurs or Frozen, and who anyway should be talking about silent Es and subtraction at school in these years."
"Coming out as hard-left partisans in this way makes Disney a hostile place for sensible, middle of the road employees to work," Shepard added.
"When added to Disney's ongoing sponsorship of anti-white, anti-male employee programming, Disney has made itself, in contravention of a raft of anti-discrimation laws, rightly the target of significant and terribly costly litigation, which it will lose," he warned. "As shareholders, we are horrified, and so think that the current executive leadership must go, to be replaced by a slate that understands that no discrimination has any place in the Mouse House."
The Free Enterprise Project has previously slammed Disney for its "Reimagine Tomorrow" employee trainings on "antiracism," which claim that the U.S. has a "long history of systemic racism and transphobia" and that White employees must "work through feelings of guilt, shame, and defensiveness to understand what is beneath them and what needs to be healed." Disney claimed the training documents had been taken out of context.
The Walt Disney Company did not respond to FOX Business's request for comment by press time.
FOX Business's Breck Dumas and Adam Sabes contributed to this report.