Disney Employees Call Iger Out of Touch “Old White Man” Over Latest Change

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Bob Iger wearing a suit and tie

Credit: Disney

On Monday, recently returned Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that all hybrid employees of The Walt Disney Company would be required to return to the office four days a week.

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In an e-mail obtained by Spectrum News 13, Iger wrote that the change would benefit company culture, creativity, and employees’ careers:

“As I’ve been meeting with teams throughout the Company over the past few months, I’ve been reminded of the tremendous value in being together with the people you work with. As you’ve heard me say many times, creativity is the heart and soul of who we are and what we do at Disney. And in a creative business like ours, nothing can replace the ability to connect, observe, and create with peers that comes from being physically together, nor the opportunity to grow professionally by learning from leaders and mentors.”

Iger interviewed by ABC
Credit: ABC News

Morale was low among The Walt Disney Company corporate employees under Chapek, and Iger aims to fix it. However, this might not be the way. 61% of work-from-home employees in the United States report choosing to do so even when offered to return to the office amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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Disney Cast Members reacted to the announcement on Reddit this week. Many are frustrated and heartbroken at having to return to the office regularly and feel more productive at home.

Iger seen next to Mickey
Credit: CNBC

“My team just last year was told that working mainly remote showed more success than ever and that they were only making us come on to justify office space. That having us mostly remote increased productivity, morale, and mental well being as the EAP was used less and turnover was down,” u/Glittering_Spray6044 wrote. “This email today felt like a gut punch. I’ve already moved twice for this company in the last year I can’t afford to do it again. Plus the salary for my role pre-COVID was about 5-10k higher and since covid with minimized office time the starting salary was lowered. Will I be getting that money now?”

“Iger said that ‘managers can only develop talent and relationships by seeing their employees directly’ which is total BS,” u/Rdubya44 agreed. “Of course he thinks that because he’s a 71 year old man. My boss and half my team are on the opposite coast. I’ve been promoted and noticed just fine. No office is going to replace that.”

Bob Iger (left) and Bob Chapek (right) at Galaxy's Edge
Credit: Disney

Many said Iger is disconnected from the needs of the modern-day workforce.

“Easiest way to know when a manager is out of touch is when they think you need to be physically in a location together to be successful. Bobby Pasta seems to be getting older by the minute,” u/RealNotFake said.

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“This is basically an old white guy, who’s been out of the game for the most transformative period that a lot of industries have ever experienced, coming back to the office and saying ‘wasn’t it so much better when things were like when I was in charge before? Let’s go back and do that,’” argued u/DrWernerKlopek89.

disney ceo bob chapek (left) and executive chairman bob iger (right)
Credit: Disney

Some suggested the move may be a stunt to reduce staff without Chapek’s promised layoffs. “Gag. But it’s not unexpected. It’s a cheap way companies can reduce headcount. Don’t want come into the office? Fine, you’re fired with no severance. If that doesn’t bring numbers down enough, then you’ll see layoffs,” u/TheVoicesofBrian explained.

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No matter the reason, the change is overwhelmingly unpopular. “This email quite literally ruined my entire day,” wrote u/AdditionalCupcake.

What do you think of Iger’s decision to bring hybrid employees back to the office? 

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