The Walt Disney Company, one of the largest media and entertainment conglomerates in the world, is set to lay off 7,000 employees in the coming months. The decision to downsize comes in the midst of a global pandemic and a period of industry uncertainty, with theme parks and movie theaters remaining closed or operating at reduced capacities.
Disney CEO Bob Iger announced the layoffs in February, as part of a cost-cutting initiative to streamline operations and stay competitive in a rapidly changing media landscape. The layoffs will be carried out in three waves, with the first round starting this week and affecting several thousand employees. The second round, expected in April, will see an even larger number of workers let go, with a third round to follow before the beginning of summer.
The news of the layoffs has been met with sadness and disappointment, particularly among those who will be directly affected. In a memo to staff obtained by CNN, Iger acknowledged the difficulty of the decision, saying, “The difficult reality of many colleagues and friends leaving Disney is not something we take lightly.”
Despite the challenges, Iger emphasized that the layoffs were necessary to ensure that Disney can continue to deliver exceptional entertainment to audiences and guests around the world. The company, which had about 220,000 workers as of October 1, 2022, is aiming to reduce its workforce by 3%.
While the pandemic has undoubtedly contributed to the current situation, it’s worth noting that Disney has been in a state of flux for some time now. In February 2020, before the pandemic hit, the company announced a major restructuring that would prioritize its streaming services and place a greater emphasis on direct-to-consumer content. The pandemic only accelerated this shift, as consumers turned to streaming platforms to satisfy their entertainment needs.
As Disney continues to navigate these challenges, it’s clear that tough decisions will need to be made. While the layoffs are undoubtedly difficult for those affected, it’s hoped that they will help ensure the company’s long-term viability and success. As Iger wrote in his memo, “we must always do what is required to ensure Disney can continue delivering exceptional entertainment to audiences and guests around the world – now, and long into the future.”