After 6 Years, Disney's 'Woke' Chief Diversity Officer Exits Stage Left

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

Disney’s Chief Diversity Officer, Latondra Newton, is reportedly leaving the company after a controversial six-year tenure. As the leader of Disney’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, Newton was responsible for executing the company’s “commitment to produce entertainment that reflects a global audience and sustains a welcoming and inclusive workplace for everyone.”


Under Newton’s watch, Disney implemented “woke” policies that have alienated many core customers. These policies included removing gender-specific language; for example, the greeting “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls” was eliminated from the iconic Magic Kingdom fireworks show to promote “inclusivity.”

At the time, Newton said:

“We want to create that magical moment with our cast members, with our guests. 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.’”

Per Newton’s initiatives, Disney also made changes to dress-up boutiques, replacing “Fairy Godmothers in Training” with “Fairy Godmother’s Apprentices” to accommodate individuals who are not women or are biologically women but use other terminology.

According to Streaming the Magic, a Disney blog:

“This way, cast members that might not identify as female can still be part of the process to dress up & style the children without having to refer to themselves as a female Disney character.” 

During Newton’s tenure, Disney introduced homosexual characters with various gender identities, such as transgender and non-binary, into its animated series and films. The company also made changes to traditional characters, like dressing Minnie Mouse in a pantsuit instead of her traditional dress.


Disney also announced that it would do away with the seven dwarves characters from its Snow White live-action remake in response to criticism that it was denigrating those in the dwarfism community. Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” released last month, featured black actress Halle Bailey as Princess Ariel in another Disney “diversity” move.

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Disney’s reputation has been impacted by its involvement in polarizing topics, including transgender and sexual identity issues. A recent survey ranked Disney as the fifth most polarizing company, indicating a significant gap between the reputational scores among Democrats and Republicans.

The company has faced criticism for opposing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, which restricts sexuality and gender identity education in elementary schools. In a statement after the bill was signed into law, the Mickey Mouse company wrote that it should have never been passed or signed and that the goal of the company was to have the law repealed by the legislature or overturned by the courts.

This led to a legal battle between Disney and DeSantis. In the lawsuit, Disney alleges a “targeted campaign of government retaliation.”


An internal email from Disney HR chief Sonia Coleman revealed the news of Newton’s departure:

To our extended DEI and HR team,

I’m writing to share the news that Latondra Newton has decided to leave The Walt Disney Company to pursue other endeavors.

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.

I know you all join me in thanking Latondra for her many contributions, including the lasting impact she has had on our employees and our culture. Working alongside all of you and so many others, she has inspired countless cast members and employees to bring about lasting change and to help create a world where we can all feel safe and we all belong.

Latondra’s direct reports will report to Julie Merges on an interim basis until a new DEI leader is identified. I want to thank Julie for leading this team along with her Talent Acquisition organization. Additionally, Shelby Curry and the DEI Internal Communications team will continue reporting to Carrie Brown in her role leading internal communications & engagement for the company.

Thank you all for your continued contributions to our DEI efforts. I know we can count on you to keep this important work moving forward during this leadership transitions.




Disney’s Chief Diversity Officer position will now be led by Julie Merges, the Senior Vice President of talent acquisition, on an interim basis. Newton reportedly will be joining the corporate board of another company and intends to allocate more of her time to a “creative company” that she owns. Newman’s exit comes just days after another Disney executive, CFO Christine McCarthy, also stepped down.


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