Disney’s Chief Diversity Officer is leaving the entertainment group after six years in operation.
Latondra Newton, who joined the studio in Burbank in February 2017 after leading Toyota’s inclusion effort, has left Disney to “pursue other endeavors,” chief human resources officer Sonya Coleman wrote in a note Tuesday.
Newton will reportedly join the board of directors of another company as she steps away from Disney. The search for a new Chief of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity is set to begin.
His CEO tenure at Disney coincided with Hollywood’s increasing (and stalled) efforts to amplify representation in the industry on and off screen. Newton headed Disney’s DEI initiatives in coordination with executives across the company. After the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, the CEO was one of three names — along with former CEOs Bob Chapek and Bob Iger — to sign a letter to employees titled “Resolution in a Time of Trouble” and a pledge to “make a difference.”
Soon after, Disney donated $5 million to the NAACP and social justice organizations, and after announcing the efforts in 2020, launched the Reimagine Tomorrow platform to amplify representation and track DEI updates. The company directed $140 million in charitable donations to underrepresented communities in fiscal year 2022, among many other DEI efforts.
The exit marks the latest departure for Disney’s leadership team after a shakeup last November that saw the ouster of Shabek and the return of Iger. The company has been in reorganization mode this year as Iger consolidated its divisions and presided over cost cuts and shift slips for 7,000 workers. On June 15, CFO Christine McCarthy, who has been at the studio for more than two decades, revealed that she would be taking a family medical leave of absence and leaving the position.
The full note from Coleman on Tuesday is below (diverse previously mentioned director):
To our extended DEI and HR team,
I am writing to share the news that Latondra Newton has decided to leave The Walt Disney Company to pursue other endeavors.
Since joining the company in 2017, Latondra has led the company’s strategic diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, including partnering with stakeholders across the enterprise to amplify stories of the world by people around the world. She is dedicated to making sure that everyone sees themselves and their life experiences represented in a meaningful and authentic way.
I know you all join me in thanking Latondra for her many contributions, including the lasting impact she has had on our people and our culture. Working alongside all of you and so many others, I have inspired countless members of staff and employees to make lasting change and to help create a world where we all feel safe and we all belong.
Latondra Direct Reports will report to Julie Merges on an interim basis until a new leader is identified for DEI. I want to thank Julie for leading this team along with the talent acquisition organization. In addition, Shelby Carey and the DEI internal communications team will continue to report to Carey Brown in her role leading the company’s internal communications and engagement.
Thank you all for your continued contributions to DEI’s efforts. I know we can count on you to continue moving this important work forward during this leadership transition.