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Florida is not the world

A middle-aged white friend of mine is currently selling her family condo in Naples, Florida. “It costs a lot to maintain,” she says, “and I just don’t like it here anymore.” The current political climate in Florida makes it feel like she’s supporting a state regime that’s harming her friends.

In the 2021 run-up to his re-election campaign for Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis began what he called “a war on wokeness,” beginning with a crusade against teaching critical race theory in elementary schools. This wasn’t actually a real issue — critical discussions of race are found in university classes, not grade schools — but the national notoriety it gained him spurred DeSantis into further attacking abortion rights, limiting the public right to protest, banning trans girls from women’s sports, and passing the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law.

That’s when Disney got involved. Having catered to kids and families for a century, the entertainment corporation and one of Florida’s largest employers at first insisted it was firmly apolitical but these repressive actions of Florida Republicans were horrifying their customers and employees, who demanded the company stand up for them. Disney’s eventual call for the law’s repeal in July 2022 was met with a series of punitive, even petty actions from DeSantis and a national boycott amongst conservatives against “woke Disney.” They pointed to any drop in theme park attendance or any underperforming Disney film as a victory against diversity, even if the truth is usually the opposite. A huge drop in Disney+ subscribers in India, for instance, was not the result of their Pakistani teen girl superhero TV show, as some insisted, but because Disney+ gave up the streaming rights to Indian Premier League cricket matches.

We searched “corporate team” in a stock photo site and got this: a photo of four thirtysomething white men discussing the contents of a whiteboard covered in post-its

With their army of corporate lawyers, Disney is one of the few organizations that can weather such a shocking attack campaign from a state government. They’re no doubt already well-versed in the principles of our “3 Bees of Woke Marketing” — they’re authentic, prepared and present — and they know full well it’s increasingly silly to argue that diversity and inclusion is killing the movie business when Warner Brothers’ fun and feminist BARBIE movie just made a billion dollars in three weeks.

Disney’s defence of equity in Florida is a necessity while the schools are under assault. Last month, the Florida Board of Education unveiled new standards for history education that insist middle-schoolers must learn “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit” and how America’s most horrifying race massacres, including the 1921 bombing of “Black Wall Street,” are no worse than violence perpetrated by African-Americans. It’s obscene, and only the prelude to DeSantis running for President in 2024.

Fortunately, the “war on wokeness” may be fizzling out. As Breakfast Culture and DEI organizations have shown, time and again, an inclusive workplace with an eye to serving diverse communities increases a company’s bottom line. In a recent interview, Target CEO Brian Connell said that, despite similar conservative boycott campaigns against the US chain, “I know that focus on diversity and inclusion and equity has fuelled much of our growth over the last nine years.” Ron DeSantis, however, continues to focus on defunding DEI programs in Florida instead of, say, fixing any number of serious problems plaguing the state, and his own campaign numbers are plummeting. Even 24 percent of Republican voters in a new poll say his “woke” issues are not a priority for them. Facts matter, says my condo-selling friend, and she wants to live somewhere that understands that. DeSantis can call DEI programs “Marxist” or “illegal and un-American” all he likes but, as always, the numbers don’t lie.

Breakfast Culture's Woke Marketing approach improves workplace cultures and drives new sources of revenue. Schedule a talk on Calendly with Jefferson Darrell today to learn more:

Let's Break Some Eggs! – scott dagostino, JEDI Consultant, Breakfast Culture™ Inc.

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