Celebrating 100 Years of Disney Magic, and Recent Advancements in DEI

One hundred years ago, Walt and his brother Roy Disney founded the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio in Hollywood. After making a few short animations, the studio turned out Steamboat Willie in 1928 (featuring a cute little guy named Mickey Mouse), and in 1937, its first feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The rest, as they say, is history… 
And oh, what a history it is. 
Over 100 years, 800+ feature films, six global theme parks, a host of TV networks, the launch of Disney+, and an inescapable level of merchandise and memorabilia – it’s safe to say Disney dominates pop culture (and the wallets of millions of parents around the world). 
In honor of Disney’s centennial, here are a few facts about the company’s workforce and board of directors, and its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion:

  • Disney’s global workforce is slightly larger than the population of Maui, who also happens to be our favorite Disney demigod. Specifically, Disney has approximately 220,000+ cast members, which is a 16 percent increase over 2021, when the pandemic temporarily closed its parks and stalled parts of its content creation business. You’re welcome…for this opening stat!
  • Earlier this month, Disney pulled a Sneakerella-level move by electing Nike chairman Mark Parker as chairman of its board. Parker, a seven-year veteran of Disney’s board, will take over for Susan Arnold, who will leave in March after reaching her 15-year term limit. Susan was the first woman to lead Disney’s board, and the first openly gay board member in its history. On a related note, our data shows that only 145 companies in the S&P 500 report LGBTQ+ data for board members on an individual or aggregate basis.
  • When it comes to Disney’s board, as Yoda said, “size matters not.” Although Disney’s board has expanded, from nine directors in 2019 to 12 directors today, its gender and ethnic diversity composition has remained consistent. In 2019, two-thirds of the company’s directors identified as diverse, and the same percentage do so today. Disney also had four female directors in 2019, while it will have five after Susan Arnold’s departure (at which time its board will be reduced to 11 members).
  • In a 2019 interview with the New York Times, Bob Iger acknowledged a lack of diversity in Disney’s executive ranks and promised change. At Disney, an executive is defined as a director or above, or a VP or above at 21st Century Fox. In 2019, 40.9 percent of these positions were held by women, while today, 45.5 percent are – a gain of 3.6 percent. At the same time, in 2019, 21.6 percent of these positions were held by people of color, while today, that number stands at 25.2 percent – also a gain of 3.6 percent.
  • Unlike that of the Springfield Power Plant owner C. Montgomery Burns, Disney’s commitment to disability inclusion is excellentDisney’s strength in creating inclusive workplace programs, and disabled-accessible experiences and products can be seen in its five-year streak of achieving a top score Disability:IN and AAPI’s Disability Equality Index.
  • In other news, Ron DeSantis continues to wage a Thanos-sized war on Disney’s “woke” business in Florida. The conservative governor first took on Disney, after former CEO Bob Chapek said it would work to repeal Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which limited, and in some cases banned, gender and sexual orientation discussion in school. DeSantis fired back by revoking Disney’s special district status, and signing the “Stop WOKE” act into law – a direct attack on the diversity and inclusion programs espoused by Disney and other businesses in the state.
  • Despite the conflict with DeSantis, Disney continues to tout Reimagine Tomorrowwhich promotes diversity and inclusion across its people, content, and culture, and the communities it serves. Under this program, Disney intends to launch inclusion standards for its content (it previously aimed to make half of all scripted content characters come from underrepresented groups). Disney also intends to direct more than half of its charitable giving ($100 million+) to programs serving underrepresented communities, while spending at least $1 billion annually with diverse suppliers by 2024.

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