Disney Changes in Pursuit of Inclusion

by Emma Mathew ‘22 and Arshia Mathur ‘22

Source: New York Post

Published May 13th, 2021

To enable employees to more freely express their personal styles, cultures, and individuality, Disney has expanded flexibility in their staff dress code: employees can now wear gender-inclusive clothing, hairstyles, jewelry, nail designs, and tattoos.

In a Disney Parks Blog post released on April 13, Josh D’Amaro, the chairman of Disney Parks, explained that the company sought to modernize its values by reforming their dress code and eliminating scenes and characters that discriminate against a certain gender, race, class, or sexual orientation. 

In the past, Disney favored a more conservative appearance for their cast members because it aligned with their friendly-face image. However, D’Amaro stated that the time has come for a change. Now, the company “wants [its] guests to see their own backgrounds and traditions reflected in the stories, experiences, and products they encounter in their interactions with Disney.” 

Disney is also changing two of its main attractions, Splash Mountain and Jungle Cruise. Splash Mountain is a ride that was originally based on the film “Song of the South,” which is said to have racist undertones. The ride has now been remade to portray characters from the 2009 animated film The Princess and the Frog, which features the first African American Disney princess. Similarly, Disney has removed ignorant depictions of wild Native Americans from its Jungle Cruise ride.

In addition to these major changes, Disney’s cast members suggested adding a fifth key to Disney’s “Four Keys” (a guided approach to guest service). The Four Keys mantra already includes safety, courtesy, show and efficiency; the fifth key will represent inclusion. 

Considering that Disney’s target audience is children and pre-teens, Disney is helping to instill values of inclusion and diversity in individuals from a young age by changing its company guidelines. According to D’Amaro, Disney strives to remain relevant in contemporary society and “will never stop working to make sure that Disney is a welcoming place for all.”

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