The head diversity officer at Disney is leaving the company after six years. Latondra Newton joined the Burbank studio in February 2017 after leading Toyota’s attempts to be more inclusive. On Tuesday, chief human resources officer Sonia Coleman wrote that Newton is leaving Disney “to pursue other endeavors.”
When she leaves Disney, Newton is said to be joining the board of another company. A search will soon start for a new chief of diversity, inclusion, and equity activities.
During the executive’s time at Disney, Hollywood’s on-screen and off-screen attempts to increase diversity grew and then stopped. Newton was in charge of Disney’s DEI programs and worked with other leaders from across the company.
After George Floyd was killed in May 2020, this executive was one of three people who signed a letter to workers called “Resolve in a Time of Unrest” and promised to “bring about real change.” The other two were then-CEO Bob Chapek and Bob Iger.
Shortly after that, Disney gave $5 million to the NAACP and other social justice groups. They also announced the effort in 2020 and started a platform called Reimagine Tomorrow to increase participation and keep track of DEI updates. Among many other DEI activities, the company gave $140 million to charities that helped underrepresented communities in the fiscal year 2022.
The move is the latest change in Disney’s top management since November when Chapek was fired and Iger was brought back. This year, Iger has been reorganizing the company by merging divisions, cutting costs, and letting go of 7,000 workers. Christine McCarthy, the studio’s CFO, had worked there for more than 20 years when she announced on June 15 that she would be taking family medical leave and leaving her job.
Below Is the Full Text of Coleman’s Note from Tuesday, Which Was First Revealed by Variety:
Disney fired it's "Diversity" chief Latondra Newton and since they're 25 billion dollars in debt and all diversity movies lost money, she'll have to ruin another corporation with a diverse indoctrination after FAILED in Disney's 100 year old family company.
Now get out! pic.twitter.com/Hj8gouyKvb
— SedricAndre (@sedric_andre) June 21, 2023
To our DEI and HR team as a whole, I’m writing to tell you that Latondra Newton has decided to leave The Walt Disney Company to explore other opportunities.
Since Latondra joined the company in 2017, she has been in charge of its strategic diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. This includes working with stakeholders across the enterprise to share the stories of people from all over the world. She has worked hard to make sure everyone sees themselves and their life experiences in a way that is true and important.
I know you all agree with me when I say thank you to Latondra for all the things she has done, like how she has changed our workers and our culture for the better. Working with you all and a lot of other people, she has inspired a lot of cast members and workers to make lasting changes and help make the world a place where everyone feels safe and like they belong.
Julie Merges will be in charge of Latondra’s direct reports until a new DEI head is found. I want to thank Julie for leading this team and for her Talent Acquisition organization. Carrie Brown will still be in charge of the company’s internal communications and engagement, and Shelby Curry and the DEI Internal Communications team will continue to answer to her.
Thank you all for all that you do to help us with DEI. During this change in leadership, I know we can count on you to keep this important job going.