The 2022 annual shareholder meeting for The Walt Disney Company was held this afternoon (March 9), and went for over 90 minutes.
It started with voting on a table of proposals by shareholders, segued into a company highlight reel from CEO Bob Chapek of successes and upcoming projects, and then finished with a live Q&A session where Chapek caught heat from shareholders about the recent noncommittal stance by the company in regards to recent anti-LGBT+ Florida legislation before stating what the company is doing about it now.
Let’s break it down…
Disney’s Chairman of the Board, Susan Arnold, started with a brief statement saying the company is pleased with their growth and success over the past year.
Then the webcast was handed over to Horacio Gutierrez, the new Senior Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary who took care of the business portion of the meeting.
Prior to the meeting, shareholders were asked to vote on several proposals that had been brought to the table.
Among the items up for vote were:
- A proposal requesting an annual report disclosing information regarding lobbying policies and activities
- An amendment of the Company’s governing documents to lower the stock ownership threshold to call a special meeting of shareholders
- A request for a dilligence report evaluating human rights impact citing recent filming in China
- A proposal for disclosure in gender and racial pay parity
The only one that passed was the gender and racial pay parity proposal, and it should be noted the Board of Directors had recommended against the proposal, plus, previous pay-gap-report related requests have been voted against by Disney investors in years past.
Following the business section of the meeting, attendees were shown a promo reel featuring the company and it’s successes, including its recent 23 Oscar nominations.
Then Bob Chapek came on screen to talk about the different facets of The Walt Disney Company, starting with the growth of its streaming services Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, and Star.
After recognizing his predecessor Bob Iger, and the new executives on the team, he reiterates Disney’s three strategic pillars of focus: storytelling, innovation, and a “relentless focus on our audience.”
He transitioned to talking about recent film, TV, and streaming successes, focusing on “Encanto,” which he once again referred to as a franchise. He also gave nods to 20th Century’s “West Side Story,” and Searchlight Pictures’ “Nightmare Alley.”
Photos and clips of Marvel’s “Moon Kinght” (debuting on Disney+ March 30), “Ms. Marvel,” and “She-Hulk” series followed by May’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which Chapek said “connects pieces of the MCU in unexpected ways.”
Chapek then dropped the first trailer for “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” which will start on May 25.
Viewers were treated to more new images for Disney’s live-action “Pinocchio” film with Tom Hanks, the series “American Born Chinese,” and the “National Treasure” series based on the movie franchise, all of which are coming to Disney+. We also got a first image for FX’s “The Old Man” starring Jeff Bridges, and highlights from National Geographic.
He finished the streaming, TV, and film segment with a summary of ESPN highlights, including “Monday Night Football with Peyton & Eli,” mentioning the company’s expanded deal wth Peyton Manning for future projects.
Next up were the theme parks and their anticipated projects like Walt Disney World’s “Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser” recent opening, and the upcoming “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind” (still a “Summer 2022” opening) and “Tron” coasters.
He also mentioned Disneyland’s upcoming “Mickey’s ToonTown” reimagining, which starts this week, the Avengers Campus at Disneyland Paris, the “Zootopia”-themed land at Shanghai Disney, and the new “Frozen”-themed land at Hong Kong Disneyland, finishing with a nod to Disney Cruise Line’s new Disney Wish.
After a quick overview of the recently announced Storyliving communities, Chapek said the company’s cast members and employees are what makes Disney truly special. This was followed by a video montage of various cast members talking about how much they love working for the company.
He then wrapped up the presentation by stating the company will continue to support their employees through programs such as family leave and Disney Aspire, and that their new social responsibility focus is “To Inspire a Better World, Through the Power of Stories.”
The meeting reached its final seqment of a shareholder Q&A session with Chapek, who started by talking about Florida’s controversial Parental Rights in Education legislation, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Chapek stated the company was actually opposed to bill from the begining, but they decided to not make a statement to work behind the scenes.
Following the outcry on social media regarding their non-stance statement earlier this week, Chapek says he called Governor Ron DeSantis to discuss their concerns, and during the call, he agreed to meet with Chapek and LGBT members of the Disney team to further discuss the legislation.
Considering the bill passed Florida’s House and Senate, and only needs DeSantis’ signature, it might be too late.
Chapek said Disney has also signed on to the Human Rights Campaign’s statement opposing the bill and other anti-LGBT+ legislation, and will be donating $5 million dollars to HRC for work to protect the LGBTQ+ community.
He noted that the company will be reassessing its “political giving in Florida and beyond,” as well.
He finished his speech with, “I understand our original approach, no matter how well-intentioned, didn’t quite get the job done. But we are committed to supporting the community going forward.”
A follow-up question from a shareholder asked what Chapek hoped to accomplish with his meeting with Governor DeSantis, and the CEO replied that during the call, DeSantis said he wants to ensure that the law could not be weaponized against LGBT kids and families, and suggested they look at the legislation to come up with ways to change it.
Governor DeSantis’ office responded to Chapek’s comments soon after the meeting stating,”Disney contacted our office today to speak with the governor. This is the first time we have heard from Disney regarding HB 1557. The governor did take the call from Mr. Chapek. The governor’s position has not changed.”
UPDATE: The Human Rights Campaign and Pixar LGBT+ employees respond to Chapek’s latest statement.
Chapek also stated it is difficult to thread the needle of the political viewpoints of their shareholders, and he wants Disney to be a place where people can come together and put their differences aside. This was in response to a shareholder claiming Disney’s LGBT initiatives such as Magical Pride and representation in its film and TV projects are an attempt to indoctrinate children.
Another question from the shareholders touched upon the Premier Pass, which provided access to both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World, with Chapek saying it was retired due to the pandemic but he will check on bringing it back.
Next a shareholder asked about new theme park projects that were mentioned but not put into motion, and Chapek said the company had to be careful with cash flow heavy projects due to the pandemic. He specifically mentioned the Mary Poppins project at EPCOT as one he was excited about, along with the Quinjet attraction at Disney’s California Adventure, and hopes they can look at them again in the future to be re-funded.
The final question was about adding shaded seats to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, to with Chapek said they would take a look at the request. While the shareholder mentioned little kids, more shaded seating at all of the parks would also benefit the elderly and disabled guests.
And with that, the 2022 annual shareholder meeting for The Walt Disney Company came to a close.
What are your thoughts about what the meeting covered? Any subjects they didn’t cover that you think they should have? Let us know in the comments!