"This is just the beginning as we continue to work toward a world where we all belong - including a more diverse and inclusive Disney Parks, Experiences and Products," Josh D'Amaro, chairman of the parks division, wrote in a blog post announcing the new policies. "There's more to do, but we're committed to listening, learning and making meaningful improvements."
Disney polled its workers (or 'cast members' as they are known) and found inclusivity was a key area of concern. The company responded by addressing the issue from within their four guiding principles -- safety, courtesy, show, and efficiency -- which guided every decision made within the company. These principles were were now joined by inclusivity.
For guests, the change means they will see more LGBTQ+ inclusive products such as the rainbow-color mouse ears hat, while costumes will now be available for those guests using wheelchairs. For employees, the new key allows for a greater level of expression across the gender spectrum. In the past, cast members were guided by a binary-based dress code.
"Our new approach provides greater flexibility with respect to forms of personal expression surrounding gender-inclusive hairstyles, jewelry, nail styles, and costume choices; and allowing appropriate visible tattoos," D'Amaro wrote. "We're updating them to not only remain relevant in today's workplace, but also enable our cast members to better express their cultures and individuality at work.
Activists hailed the decision.
"Disney's move is a powerful example of a company that is walking the walk on inclusion and belonging," Erin Uritus, president of Out and Equal, said in a statement. "With these changes, cast members can bring their full, authentic selves to their work. More Disney guests will be able to see themselves reflected in the diversity of people across all levels of the company."