The move by Floridian legislators to put an end to Disney’s special privileges has sparked many other corporations onto high alert, as stated by a report put forth over the weekend.
In the wake of the leadership for Disney choosing to go against the new parental rights legislation in Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis stated that “Disney is a guest in Florida” and put his pen to the legislation that would end the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which is a 39-square mile special governing and tax district that was the home of Disney World while letting Disney bypass various state taxes and other regulations.
As stated in a report from the Wall Street Journal, CEOs are now seeking directions that till allow them to steer wide of the same outcome for their own companies.
“The No. 1 concern CEOs have is, ‘When should I speak out on public issues?’” stated Bill George, a former Medtronic CEO and current Harvard Business School senior fellow, in comments to the outlet. “As one CEO said to me, ‘I want to speak out on social issues, but I don’t want to get involved in politics.’ Which I said under my breath, ‘That’s not possible.’”
It was also highlighted by the Wall Street Journal that quite a few executives are seeing a sense of relief as they can no focus far more on maximizing the returns for shareholders while just outright ignoring the various raging political debates. It was stated to the outlet by corporate governance lawyer David Berger that legislators are becoming more and more willing to take on businesses when it proves advantageous for them.
“It used to be that Republicans especially — but both parties — liked big business,” he claimed. “And now what you’re seeing is both parties like to use big business as political footballs one way or the other.”
The CEO of Georgia-based manufacturing company Neenah, Julie Schertell, stated that “probably anybody sitting in a leadership role” is carefully watching the Disney ordeal “to some degree.”
“Because I want folks to assume positive intent, like ‘Here’s what we’re trying to do, and if it feels like a misstep, let’s talk about that. And of course, correct on it,’” she claimed with respect to dealing with the concerns of employees.
Ron Williams — who previously held the seat of chairman for Aetna but now sits on the boards of Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, and American Express– explains that making your way through the minefield of politics is quite a “challenging job” for executives.
“Companies often deal in substance, and politicians often deal with foils,” he stated. “And so, you know, companies can inadvertently become a foil for different political issues. It’s not enough to know what you want to do. You have to be artful in how you do it.”