Mr. Chapek also said Disney would donate $5 million to L.G.T.B.Q. organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign. “As I wrote to our employees earlier this week, we’re committed to supporting community organizations like these so they are better equipped to take on these fights,” he said. “Meanwhile, we will also be assessing our approach to advocacy, including political giving in Florida.”
The Human Rights Campaign rejected Disney’s donation.
“While Disney took a regrettable stance by choosing to stay silent amid political attacks against L.G.B.T.Q.+ families in Florida — including hardworking families employed by Disney — today they took a step in the right direction,” Joni Madison, the organization’s interim president, said in a statement. “But it was merely the first step.” She said that HRC, as the nonprofit is known, would decline Disney’s funds “until we see them build on their public commitment.”
Disney responded with a statement: “We signed the HRC’s national business statement opposing anti-L.G.B.T.Q.+ legislation and pledged to financially support their efforts, and, while we are surprised and disappointed that they will not take our financial support at this time, we remain committed to meaningful action to combat legislation targeting the L.G.B.T.Q.+ community.”
Before Mr. Chapek appeared at Disney’s meeting, Susan Arnold, who succeeded Mr. Iger as Disney’s chairman (and who is one of the highest-ranking women in corporate America to live openly as a lesbian), offered opening remarks. She praised the company’s profitability and growth and added that Disney strove “to create a workplace in which all employees feel welcomed and supported and to contribute to communities where we work.”
Then, in what appeared to be a pretaped video, a gregarious Mr. Chapek, smiling and wearing a light gray suit with no tie, spent more than 30 minutes praising recent accomplishments, including the opening of a new “Star Wars” attraction at Disney World, and teasing upcoming offerings, like the summertime rollout of a new Disney cruise ship.
He then went off camera and did his best to execute a graceful exit from the “Don’t Say Gay” situation. “What we stand for as a company matters,” he said.
Mr. Chapek’s executive training wheels came off in December. For nearly two years, ever since Disney promoted him to chief executive, he had continued to answer to Mr. Iger, who remained executive chairman. At the end of last year, when Mr. Iger retired, it was finally Mr. Chapek’s chance to shine.