Disney CEO Bob Iger arrives at the AFI Awards at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, CA on Friday, January 13, 2023. The entertainment industry’s big-name award seasons converge on the road to the Oscars. Credit – Jay L. Clendenin-Los Angeles Times
The Troika of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, activist Nelson Peltz and former Marvel chairman Ike Perlmutter found their match in Disney CEO Bob Iger. Last week, in a shot heard around the country, Iger called Florida’s top GOP governor “Anti-Trade and Anti-Florida” After DC left the state in a controversy that started against the so-called state Don’t say gay A year ago, Law prompted DeSantis to retaliate. Iger’s latest move has mirrored the comic’s response Florida-based cruise line CEOs Two years ago, when DeSantis threatened to demand standardized vaccination passports for his crew and passengers — at the request of those passengers and crew.
Iger’s words this week coincided with a remarkable set of strategic moves that took the wind out of DeSantis’ sails even more than cruise line captains. on top Trump campaign official “Governor DeSantis negotiated a Mickey Mouse deal,” he said, dismissing the governor’s outcry when commenting on Iger.
In the year A 1955 comedy political novel written by Leonard Wibberley Roaring rat It was later adapted for stateside, film and TV production with no connection to Disney. But that bold theme was brought to life this week by Mickey Mouse mentor Iger. Iger decided enough of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ corrupt political grandstanding for using Walt Disney World as a political foil for his presidential ambitions and blasted the divisive governor.
Bullies thrive on seeing weaknesses. Iger’s predecessor, Bob Chapek, unwittingly passed on that opportunity, and DeSantis left. Chapek eventually joined 130 companies opposing the bill, protesting the company’s stance on “Don’t Say Gay.” The DeSantis test Take away the autonomy of the company Disney Parks, the 42-acre park in central Florida awarded by the state 56 years ago, was unprecedented government intervention in private sector business decisions.
Disentis tried to determine what public safety, sewer and water services, roadways, and other municipal-type services Disney funded and then how much Disney would charge for those services. Worse, five people A politically driven board Including the wife of the state GOP chairman — a longtime critic of the history of race relations — a Christian nationalist and someone who believes in it, this municipal district was about to be controlled. Tap water It can make people gay.
“A company has the same right to free speech as individuals,” said Iger, defending his popular media enterprise.
Most don’t expect Florida’s governor to target a major corporate entity like Disney. It is already among the largest employers in DeSantis County, with more than 70,000 Florida employees and the largest taxpayer. Over the next few years, Disney plans to invest another $17 billion and add 13,000 more jobs.
Highlighting this commitment to Florida by Disney Annual meeting of shareholders Iger explained this week, “We love Florida State. This shows not only how much we have invested over the last 50 years, but also how much we have returned through jobs and community service, taxes, tourism and other responsible business practices. We always respect and appreciate what the government has done for us.
Iger’s strong words are matched by smart and simple actions. Before the governor’s plan took effect, Iger struck a legal deal with the soon-to-be-dissolved board of supervisors, handing the key powers that DeSantis tried to seize directly to Disney for 30 years. Leaving the governor’s new board of supervisors largely powerless, the deal authorized the construction of another theme park and placed restrictions on a successor board controlled by DeSantis from making changes to Disney properties without the company’s approval. All this followed Important public hearings and proper notification.
Courage is nothing new for Iger when it comes to internal Disney business or his voice as an external ambassador. Without being grandiose, Iger exudes a quiet confidence that allows him to speak when the moment is urgent. He was one of several CEOs who called for national unity and stability in the 2020 US presidential term to be filled with violence. Iger spoke out in support of Merck CEO Ken Frazier when Donald Trump resigned from the president’s business advisory council in August 2017 in response to his pitting violent Nazis and white nationalists against violent protesters. This It caused a stir The departure of the chief executive and the collapse of the council. Iger was not the first CEO to stand up Behind Ken Frazier But before Frazier himself left the House.
Similarly, Iger has acted boldly on domestic issues, and has not hesitated to show moral leadership when he quickly canceled a top ABC TV sitcom. Roseanne When the star explodes In a shocking, unequivocal racist tirade on Twitter.
Such boldness did not come at the expense of Disney’s performance. Total shareholder return during Iger’s tenure was . 578%Compared to 140% for the S&P 500. All this added 70,000 jobs. With this record, Iger didn’t hesitate to see the attack. Declining Activist Nelson PeltzAlthough misguided commentators advised Iger to accept the offer later. give backing into office as CEO. Pelts folded into Iger’s strategic position, with his tail between his legs as Disney’s stock rose. For good measure, Iger also made the necessary exodus of the Marvel division, removing Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter as “part of a cost-cutting initiative.” On Thursday, Perlmutter admitted his sadness Cooperation The allegations against DeSantis and Peltz against Disney’s leadership, as well as its somewhat ambiguous strategy.
Whether it is DC’s business performance or defending its corporate character, its business mission is not to cower in the face of anti-labor courts challenging new opportunities in corporate governance. Iger this week drew parallels between the DeSantis-led efforts to intimidate CEOs into silence and the human rights abuses of World War II and the Civil War. As he told his shareholders: “Standing silent, in some ways, still has the taint of indifference.” So as long as I’m on the job, I’ll continue to conduct myself with courtesy and respect, and when we weigh in on our instincts, we’ll trust our instincts because the issue is truly important to our business. And for the people who work for us.
“Courage is like fire,” said British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli 150 years ago. Bullying is smoke.” Bob Iger knows how to blow out the smoke of cowardly bullies. Those many CEOs looking to strengthen corporate character have found a new role model to show off their boards.