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Disney World is the place where dreams come true unless that dream is diversity, equity, and inclusion. In another battle seemingly won by Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, his administration abolished Walt Disney World’s DEI programs last Thursday. The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) is the governing jurisdiction and special taxing district for the land of Walt Disney World Resort, to which Governor appointed five new board members earlier this year. CNN reported:

“CFTOD will dissolve the district’s DEI committee and eliminate any job duties relating to DEI. District employees will also be prohibited from using staff time to pursue DEI initiatives, the statement said. However, this change affects only the government and not the companies that operate inside the district (i.e. Disney) and would seem to eliminate contracting protocols that in the past gave special consideration of women and minority owned businesses during the procurement processes.

According to the new oversight district, Reedy Creek [the Reedy Creek Improvement District was CFTOD’s predecessor] ‘wasted taxpayer dollars’ by entering into contracts based on race- and gender-driven goals and ‘aggressively’ monitoring contractors’ race and gender practices under its Minority/Women Business Enterprise and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise programs. CFTOD said it estimates the previous district spent millions of dollars finding businesses who helped meet these DEI quotas.”

Information about this action does not appear on the CFTOD’s website – which is still operating as its predecessor organization, the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) – or its Facebook page.

DeSantis, who championed Florida’s Stop Woke law, has been in an ongoing battle with Disney. The company opposed “Don’t Say Gay” laws that banned classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in grade schools. In a political response, DeSantis took over the District via legislation and seated five new board members sympathetic to the Governor’s agenda. The parties will certainly take this fight to the court room to determine the legality of the move and ultimately the fate of Disney’s DEI programs – establishing an important precedent in DEI law.

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The Editor

Ngozi Okeh is an experienced leader with a history of driving efforts to conceptualize, define, assess and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as strategic business processes. Ngozi is currently the Director of DEI at a leading marketing technology company where she develops and executes enterprise-wide DEI initiatives through rigorous strategic planning efforts, community partnerships, leadership collaboration, strategy evaluation, and careful management of communication and buy-in as well as policies and procedures.  Previously, she worked at an independent mortgage bank, where… View Profile