Disney CEO hits back at allegations company is 'too woke'

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Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Chapek responded Wednesday to criticism that his company has become "too woke."

Speaking at the Wall Street Journal Tech Live conference, he said that Disney's programming will cater to the audience and reflect the "rich, diverse" world of viewers. 

"The world is a rich, diverse place, and we want our content to reflect that," Chapek said.

Disney and Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis have locked horns over the state's Parental Rights in Education bill. 

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Following pressure from employees and industry members, Disney called for Florida's legislature to repeal the measure in a March tweet, saying it was "dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the  LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country." 

FILE PHOTO: Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer of Disney, speaks at the 2022 Disney Legends Awards during Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, Sept. 9, 2022.  (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni / Reuters Photos)

Chapek issued a statement to employees apologizing for not speaking up on the issue sooner and said it would pause all political donations in the state pending review. 

The Walt Disney Co. and its affiliates made more than $20 million in political contributions to both Republicans and Democrats in the 2020 campaign cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

LGBTQ employees and their supporters walkout of Disney Animation protesting CEO Bob Chapek’s handling of the staff controversy over Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” bill, March 22, 2022, in Burbank, California. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law, telling reporters that Disney had "crossed the line." 

Attendees are reflected in Disney+ logo during the Walt Disney D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, on Sept. 9, 2022.  (PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Florida later moved to revoke the state's special status that allowed it to essentially self-govern its Walt Disney World complex.

When asked what he had learned from the situation, Chapek said he had been reminded of how important the sentiments of Disney's cast are on similar issues "in terms of making them feel that they were part of The Walt Disney Company."

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"My own personal feelings aren't really important," he added. "What's important is how people think about our company."

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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