Episode 80: Free Speech Extends to Businesses, Too (Transcript)

Jun 20, 2023



Yasmine (00:00):
Hello and welcome back to Pixie Dust & Profits. I’m Yasmine.

Nicole (00:04):
And I’m Nicole.

Yasmine (00:05):
And we’re back with the second episode of our snack-size summer series. Again, we know in the summer you are busy. We’re busy, so we’re keeping all of our episodes short and sweet. And this week maybe the topic that we’re talking about isn’t so sweet. But if you have been keeping up with any of the news of what’s happening in Florida, I am sure you have heard about the battle going on between Florida’s governor, DeSantis and Disney. Before we get into the details, let’s talk about how it started. All of this discord had stemmed when Disney had spoken out against the don’t say gay bill that Florida enacted. Essentially, it does not allow any school children to say the word gay or talk about homosexuality in any capacity. And Disney, if you’ve been keeping up with their content, especially I would say over the past couple years, has really been trying to be more inclusive about the different voices and backgrounds in the characters and actors that they feature in their shows. And

Nicole (01:12):
All of their employees, I mean, they’re the largest employer in Florida.

Yasmine (01:16):
Yeah. And they’re, they’re really trying to be inclusive and create content that reflects the modern day world. Now, depending on where you live, that might not necessarily reflect your exact reality, but doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. And I think Disney’s doing a really great job of elevating different voices that historically we didn’t really see represented well in media. And also like in companies, the fact that they’re, like Nicole said, hiring people of all different backgrounds, beliefs, sexualities, I think is so, and

Nicole (01:49):
This also isn’t very new either. Bob Iger was the CEO for over 20 years. We have obviously recommended his book numerous times, but if you’ve read it, there’s a lot of information in there about how the core to Disney is storytelling and relatability to those stories. And so you have to be telling the stories of the people who will be consuming them in order to stay relevant and innovative and expand into the future. So none of this is a surprise or slow going in any way. Disney’s been working toward this for very many years.

Yasmine (02:29):
Absolutely. So the issue that we’re having is that as a retaliatory measure, and we know it’s retaliation, governor DeSantis has threatened to remove Disney’s special district status. So Disney operates Reedy Creek, which is a special district in which they are responsible for paying for all of the municipal infrastructure and planning. This was done when Disney was first built many, many years ago in order to basically expedite a lot of like the building processes when they want to build new rides and resorts and facilities but also to not put the weight of managing Disney’s infrastructure mm-hmm. in terms of like roads, utilities, the fire, et cetera, department fire departments Yeah. On the neighboring residence and taxpayers. So Disney pays for all of that. And we know this is retaliatory because there are 1,800 special districts in Florida alone, and Governor DeSantis is trying his darnedest to dismantle Reedy Creek. So I won’t get too much into the details of like what has happened, but essentially he’s trying to dismantle it, have a board take control over what happens that’s not including anyone from Disney and push the cost of managing the district back onto the taxpayers of Osceola County,

Nicole (04:01):
Who are overwhelmingly have a party that is not as of a zone. Yes. and so, you know, talking about this, there’s active litigation about this. So you will probably be seeing headlines by the time this comes out. They’ll probably be new news about the whole situation. But essentially Disney is suing the state saying that all of these practices of trying to essentially take over their business operations and how they run their business is retaliation against something that they did, you know, a year and a half, two years ago. And so for purposes of this episode, you know, whatever side of whatever you are on, I think everyone knows what side Yasmine and I are on. But at the very base of this, regardless of all of the politics surrounding it, we just wanna say like, it’s a fundamental right. In our country, Yasmine is Canadian, but it’s, it’s a right to free speech. Right. And that extends to businesses and has for a very long time. Now, there’s a lot of pros and cons to the fact that businesses, you know, have a voice and can exercise free speech and lobby and all of those things. We’re not gonna get into that. But at the bottom of it, we’re talking about how free speech extends to our businesses too.

Yasmine (05:13):
Yes. And as business owners, sometimes it could be scary to voice our opinions and views because we don’t want to, you know, offend any customers that we have, especially if we serve, you know, people across all beliefs, you know? But I also think that consumers today are leaning more and more towards supporting businesses that share their views and values and, you know,

Nicole (05:42):
Don’t prop up a system that has harmed many Yeah. And continues to harm many. Yeah. I, I think people are just looking more and more as the generations are getting younger, we’re so plugged in to the internet mm-hmm. that it’s not even the internet, it’s just how we live our lives now. And we’re kind of, of the generation, we’re that sandwich generation where we remember the days before dial up, but mm-hmm. , we, so we still see Google as a tool. And I think like when you start getting younger than we are, it’s not a tool, it’s just everyday life. And so your brands, like the shirt you’re wearing, the shoes you’re wearing, they represent so much more because everyone has a personal brand now, right? Like even if I, you’re not out there taking an Instagram photo every day and showing your outfit of the day, it’s almost as if everyone has a personal brand and you don’t want to be walking outside wearing something that is just doesn’t feel good morally or ethically.

Nicole (06:48):
And so I think this is so much more ingrained and we’re just continuing, that’s going to keep going on and getting deeper. I know the word parasocial gets thrown out all the time. And so like, we’re kind of getting into that like, relationship with our brands where they’re part of our identity and personality in a way that I don’t think was in the past. In the past. It was like, you watch a Coca-Cola commercial on tv and that’s what everyone is drinking because that’s the only commercial on tv. And now there’s so many more nuances, there’s personal choice. And so yeah, you’re, you’re a brand, you’re a walking brand and you want to feel aligned with the things that are going on. And so free speech is something businesses are allowed to do. Whether that’s saying, you know, we’re, we’re all about the environment. Everything that we make is, you know, recyclable in some way. We’ve thought about the entire production process from cradle to grave. Like that’s free speech. You’re allowed to say. Like that’s what your brand’s platform is all about.

Yasmine (07:46):
And you know, there could be consequences to having specific values and belief systems, but you know, consumers also have a right to vote with their dollar. And at the end of the day, I feel like, you know, you wanna attract customers and people who also align with your belief system. Like you want someone who cares about like the environment. If you’re an eco-friendly brand, you want to attract customers who care about inclusivity. If you’re Disney, you know, we both hold like Disney Real estate, I’m using air quotes, you can’t see that because I’m obviously talking. But we both are D V C owners and I feel like personally Disney’s stance on this issue could have affected whether I continue to remain a D V C member or sold my D V C properties because I care about where my money goes and what it ultimately supports. At the end of the day,

Nicole (08:46):
I, you know, taking off the rose colored glasses, we all know that Disney is putting money behind whichever candidates are going we’ll support their interests, giving them the most return on investment. Mm-Hmm. , we, we know that and we know that there’s no perfectly aligned company or anything like that. But just thinking about those things beyond, I enjoy going to Disney World, it’s a lot of fun. Who do they stand for? What are they doing? You know, definitely things they’re benefiting from in the system, but who are they harming? And let’s keep exploring that. You know, a lot of it stuff came out during the pandemic about how workers were treated and you know, the things they’re doing to get things back on track and take better care of their employees. And so there’s also been on their news where they’ve decided not to bring a whole campus to Florida that they were originally planning to relocate.

Nicole (09:43):
I think it was imagineers from California to Florida. And that’s gonna bring a whole bunch of business to Florida to a different area, not necessarily the Walt Disney World campus. And they’ve canceled that project. And so when you think about the cost of free speech in this case, not only is the state losing money by not moving all these jobs and this opportunity over, it’s just this, this back and forth of you do this, we’ll do that, you do this, we’ll do that. And who really loses there? So just think about that in terms of your business. And you have the right to free speech. You also have the right to the consequences of that free speech. But we just think it’s really important to remind everyone that you can say what you need to say as a business owner. And that might have consequences, but you shouldn’t be retaliated against for it.

Yasmine (10:40):
Especially not by the government.

Nicole (10:42):
Twitter bots are another story entirely.

Yasmine (10:46):
All right. Well, we’d love to know what you think about this, if you wanna talk about it at all. No pressure. You know where to find us. We are on Instagram at pixiedustandprofits,

Nicole (10:56):
And you can also email us at hello@pixiedustandprofits.com. We love hearing from you. If you have ideas for some of our Summer Snack series episodes, we would love to hear them. We’ll see you real soon.

Yasmine (11:09):



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