Disney Chief Diversity Officer Latondra Newton To Exit Company

Latondra Newton, who has served as Disney’s chief diversity officer since 2017, is leaving the company. An internal memo from Disney chief human resources officer Sonia Coleman announcing Newton’s departure was circulated to staff Tuesday.

Coleman wrote that Newton “decided to leave The Walt Disney Company to pursue other endeavors.” We hear that she plans to join a corporate board and focus on a creative company she owns.

Disney said Newton’s direct reports will now report to Julie Merges, SVP Talent Acquisition, who will run the DEI operations on an interim basis while the search for Newton’s replacement is underway.

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Newton’s title was SVP, Chief Diversity Officer, a role in which she oversaw Disney’s strategic diversity and inclusion initiatives. According to Disney’s bio, she worked with “various business segments and leaders across the enterprise to build on Disney’s commitment to produce entertainment that reflects a global audience and sustains a welcoming and inclusive workplace for everyone.”

Her time at Disney included co-signing with Bob Iger and Bob Chapek the May 2020 memo to Disney staff in the wake of the George Floyd killing, titled “Resolve in the Time of Unrest.” In it, the trio pledged “to use our compassion, our creative ideas and our collective sense of humanity to ensure we are fostering a culture that acknowledges our people’s feelings and their pain. We also realize that now more than ever is the time for us all to further strengthen our commitment to diversity and inclusion everywhere.”

Before Disney, Newton was Group Vice President, Social Innovation and Chief Diversity Officer. Toyota Motor North America, Inc. and Chief Program Officer, Toyota Mobility Foundation, Toyota Motor Corporation. She began her career at Toyota in 1991.

Variety was first to report on Newton’s exit today.

Here’s Coleman’s full memo:

To our extended DEI and HR team, 

I’m 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 has been dedicated to ensuring every person 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 employees and our culture. Working alongside all of you and so many others, she has inspired countless cast members and employees to bring about lasting change and to help create a world where we can all feel safe and we all belong.  

Latondra’s direct reports will report to Julie Merges on an interim basis until a new DEI leader is identified. I want to thank Julie for leading this team along with her Talent Acquisition organization. Additionally, Shelby Curry and the DEI Internal Communications team will continue reporting to Carrie Brown in her role leading internal communications & engagement for the company. 

Thank you all for your continued contributions to our DEI efforts. I know we can count on you to keep this important work moving forward during this leadership transition. 


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