People on the Move: Susan E. Arnold, New Chairman of the Board for the Walt Disney Company

For the first time ever in its nearly hundred-year-old history, Disney will have a female board chair.

NPR’s Jeff Dean reported that “the Walt Disney Co. has announced that Susan E. Arnold will succeed Robert Iger as chairman of the board, the first time a woman has held the position at the company, effective Dec. 31.”

According to Dean, “Arnold, a 14-year member of the Disney board, will look to draw upon her experience in executive positions at Procter & Gamble and the Carlyle Group and as a director of McDonald’s as she assumes a lead role in navigating one of the world’s largest media companies.” 

Along with CEO Bob Chapek, who succeeded Iger in 2020, Arnold will be taking the reins at Disney in a tumultuous time for the entertainment giant. Chapek and Arnold are tasked with leading Disney at a time of significant change and uncertainty in the entertainment industry as a whole. The early stages of the pandemic took a massive toll on Disney, with many of its theme parks and theaters shuttered due to social-distancing protocol. Since then, most of its theme parks and theaters have reopened, but Disney is now also focusing on streaming services and making its content culturally relevant.

As Reuters noted, Arnold’s appointment also “comes at a time when big corporations are moving away from an organizational structure where the CEO and chairperson roles are held by a single person following a push by corporate-governance experts, shareholders and, in some cases, regulators to untangle the two roles.”

Among the other changes at the Mouse House: Studios head Alan Horn, President and Chief Creative Officer of Disney Branded Television Gary Marsh and Company General Counsel Alan Braverman have all announced plans to leave the company before the end of the year.


Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.



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