Bob Iger Says Corporation Leadership Should Be Political Because It’s About “Right and Wrong”


Former Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger has done an interview with Chris Wallace on his new CNN+ series. During the interview he talked about how corporate leaders should be political but it’s not actually about politics it’s about “right and wrong.”

Here’s the thing. It can be argued that the reason Disney is in so much trouble now is  because Bob Iger kept using the Walt Disney Company for personal political gain. Iger made it no secret that he wanted a seat at the Democratic table either in Washington DC or as an ambassador to China. There was even talk of him running for president.

Recently Disney has come under fire for a Florida bill that was drafted by people that the company gave political donations to. However, it is important to note that those donations happened during Bob Iger’s tenure at the company. It is also important to note that politicians on both sides of the aisle were given political donations, including those who voted against the bill.

Now Bob Iger is talking about how it isn’t about politics so much as it’s about what’s “right and wrong.”

When asked about the Florida bill that was just signed into law Iger said:

“A lot of these issues are not necessarily political. It’s about right and wrong. So I happened to feel, and I tweeted an opinion about the ‘don’t say gay’ bill in Florida. To me, it wasn’t about politics. It is about what is right and what is wrong, and that just seemed wrong. It seemed potentially harmful to kids.”

Yet, the person mainly responsible for the bill was given political donations from Disney during Iger’s leadership.

When Iger was asked about political hot button topics like climate change or immigration and how he made company decisions around those he said:

I had to contend with this a lot, and the filter that I used to determine whether we should or should not weigh in considered a few factors. What would its impact have on our employees, on our shareholders and our customers? And if any one of those three constituencies had a deep interest in or would be affected by whatever was the matter at hand, then it was something I thought we should consider weighing in on.

Weigh in he would. This is why it’s been so hard for the new leadership to take the company back to a more apolitical stance.

Wallace followed up asking Bob Iger if there was consideration given to how choices related to hot button topics would resonate with guests and if it would turn people off from the theme parks.

Iger responded with:

We never really saw much evidence of that, even though there were threats about boycotts on certain things. Again, when you are dealing with right and wrong, and when you are dealing with something that does have a profound impact on your business, I just think you have to do what is right and not worry about the potential backlash to it.

But there has been a lot of backlash from his philosophy since his departure. Now some have expectations from Disney that they don’t seem to have for other companies who also donated to the same politicians. The company is not allowed to return to an apolitical public stance, even though they are doing a lot internally.

This conflict has pushed the company into turmoil and has put an even bigger target on current CEO Bob Chapek. This comes after the company, under Chapek, has started the “Reimagine Tomorrow” initiative and we have seem more diverse hiring practices and relaxed Cast Member appearance guidelines.

Iger was also confronted about the wage gap between executives and employees. He was also questioned about the companies hesitancy to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. This did fall under his tenure as well.

Here’s what he said:

I’ve never been defensive about what I made. I was paid at a level that was commensurate with what most heads of large media companies were paid throughout my tenure and often less than, interestingly enough, and Disney was among the most complex and the largest and the most successful of them all.”

The man walked away with a huge, undisclosed, amount.

He continued:

If I have regrets, it would be one, and that is that, we were one of the first companies, by the way, to go to $10 an hour as the starting wage. We were being pushed to go to $15. There was some hesitation in that regard because of the cost associated with it. We should have done that right away. My opinion.

But you didn’t Iger.

In fact the Walt Disney Company had lawyers on it to avoid paying that as long as possible. Which again would have been under his leadership. I thought it was about what is “right and wrong?”

It feels a bit hypocritical of Bob Iger to sit there and make these statements given how much political influence he leveraged the company for. I’m not a big fan of Bob Chapek, but I don’t think it’s fair to solely blame it on him when Iger had more to do with creating the current issues in the first place. Now he’s sitting in interviews shrugging it off and letting it fall where it may.

Source: Deadline

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