After 98 years, Walt Disney Co. has announced that they have appointed their first female board chair! 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 December 31st.

Image Credit: Disney

Susan E. 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.

Robert Iger, who was the CEO and board chair from 2005 to 2020, expanded Disney’s profile dramatically through a series of acquisitions that included Pixar Animation and Marvel Entertainment. Bob Chapek will succeed Robert Iger as CEO, and Susan E. Arnold will be the chairman.

“Susan is an incredibly esteemed executive whose wealth of experience, unwavering integrity, and expert judgment has been invaluable to the company since she first joined the Board in 2007,” Stated Robert Iger.

Bob Chapek and Susan E. Arnold are tasked with leading Disney at a time of change and uncertainty in the entertainment industry. The beginning of the pandemic took a toll on Disney as their theme parks and theatres closed their doors. Disney has recently put a lot of focus on streaming services and making their content culturally relevant.

Arnold’s appointment comes at a time when large corporations are changing their organizational structures from the CEO and chairperson roles are held by a single person, which is following a push by corporate-governance experts, shareholders and, in some cases, regulators to separate the two roles.

Disney has been redefining how their female characters are portrayed, rather than being damsels in distress they have shifted their female characters to the strong and diverse characters that celebrate female ambition. For example, Mulan, Merida in Brave and Moana are all strong female personalities that notably do not have love interests in the films.

Disney is on the path to a brighter tomorrow with the changes they are making within their employees and company standards. They are creating a world where strong female personalities are celebrated and normalized!

Published by HOLR Magazine.