September 22, 2023
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Disney reportedly loses chief diversity officer behind controversial DEI initiates, including gender-neutral titles

Disney reportedly loses chief diversity officer behind controversial DEI initiates, including gender-neutral titles

After six years at the helm, Disney’s chief diversity officer and senior vice president, Latondra Newton, recently announced her departure from the company, according to an internal memo obtained by Variety.

Newton was brought on board to implement inclusivity policies within the company, which stirred up significant controversy and alienated some of its longtime customer base.

Newton’s profile on the company’s website states that she led “diversity and inclusion initiatives” that built upon “Disney’s commitment to produce entertainment that reflects a global audience and sustains a welcoming and inclusive workplace for everyone.”

An internal memo from Disney HR chief Sonia Coleman obtained by Variety revealed the news about Newton’s departure.

“Since joining the company in 2017, Latondra has led the company’s strategic diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, including partnering with stakeholders across the enterprise to amplify stories of the world by people around the world. She has been dedicated to ensuring every person sees themselves and their life experiences represented in a meaningful and authentic way,” Coleman reportedly wrote.

One of the most notable changes during Newton’s tenure with Disney happened last year when the company decided to axe its iconic greeting, “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,” from its Disney World Magic Kingdom fireworks display in Orlando, Florida.

At the time, Newton claimed the change would promote a more inclusive environment for its guests and workers.

“We want to create that magical moment with our cast members, with our guests,” Newton said. “And we don’t want to just assume because someone might be in, our interpretation, may be presenting as female that they may not want to be ‘princess.'”

During Newton’s time with the company, Disney also stopped referring to some cast members as “Fairy Godmothers in Training” and instead opted for the gender-neutral title “Fairy Godmother’s Apprentices.”

Within the last several years, Disney has also prioritized including LGBT-identifying characters in its films and series.

Sources told Reuters that Newton left her role at Disney to join the board of another company and prioritize her own creative firm.

According to the internal memo, Disney’s senior vice president of talent acquisition, Julie Merges, will take over for Newton in the interim.

Last week, Disney reported that its executive vice president and chief financial officer, Christine McCarthy, would also be stepping down.

Disney did not respond to a request for comment, Reuters reported.

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