Following long-term COVID-19-related closures, Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort has opened back up for business and California’s Disneyland is slated to reopen on April 30th. The family-friendly company also took some time away from celebrating its big news to announce some inclusive and diversity-promoting efforts it had implemented during the company’s time away.
Joey Nolfi of Entertainment Weekly has reported that “Disney is committed to making its theme parks the happiest places on earth for both guests and its employees, according to a new initiative aimed at amplifying diversity, inclusion and individual expression among its workforce,” which now includes ‘gender-inclusive hairstyles’ and tattoos.
In its announcement of the new changes, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro said “we want our guests to see their own backgrounds and traditions reflected in the stories, experiences and products they encounter in their interactions with Disney. And we want our cast members — and future cast members — to feel a sense of belonging at work.”
“The world is changing, and we will change with it,” the company said.
D’Amaro said that that means “cultivating an environment where all people feel welcomed and appreciated for their unique life experiences, perspectives and culture. Where we celebrate allyship and support for each other. And where diverse views and ideas are sought after as critical contributions towards our collective success.”
While parks were closed for the past 16 months, D’Amaro said the company spoke with numerous existing employees and began working with them to “develop an approach to making inclusivity a core tenet of its daily operations.”
“Our new approach provides greater flexibility with respect to forms of personal expression surrounding gender-inclusive hairstyles, jewelry, nail styles and costume choices; and allowing appropriate visible tattoos,” D’Amaro said. “We’re updating them to not only remain relevant in today’s workplace but also enable our cast members to better express their cultures and individuality at work.”
D’Amaro said the company is so committed to these principles that it is also updating a 65-year-old code of operations the theme parks used to guide all actions and decisions; its “Four Keys” — safety, show, courtesy and efficiency — will now become five keys, with the new fifth “key” representing inclusion.
In addition to renewed efforts at inclusivity for its employees, Disney also announced that it was in the process of revamping popular attractions such as Splash Mountain and the Jungle Cruise rides to remove racially insensitive portrayals. Disney is also working to increase representation of Black experiences within its parks, including a new Soul attraction at Epcot highlighting the varied history of jazz music, inspired by Disney’s 2020 animated film.
“We’ll never stop working to make sure that Disney is a welcoming place for all,” D’Amaro said. “I’m excited about where we’re headed, and we’ll have more to share soon. Thank you for joining us on this journey.”