Disney sent me an interesting email last week, which you can read below.
The fact that Disney will require all employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 isn't the interesting part about the email; they join a growing list of well-known companies (including Facebook, Google, Lyft, Netflix, Twitter, and Uber) who have already publicly stated that all employees must be fully vaccinated before returning to their offices.
The interesting part is that I received this email... and I'm not a Disney employee.
As my regular readers will already know, I applied for a role with Disney a few months ago. Disney's Online Candidate Dashboard tells me the status of that application is still "Under Review", so while I'm not an employee, I am an "active applicant".
And it seems Disney wants all of its active applicants to know that any job offers issued will come with a condition: new hires need to be fully vaccinated at least seven days prior to their scheduled start date.*
This post isn't intended to debate the effectiveness of vaccines, the legality of requiring employees to be vaccinated, or the ethics of segregating those who are vaccinated from those who are not. I'm not a doctor, a lawyer, or an ethicist.
But I am a marketer. And so this specific situation is interesting to me for two reasons.
First, I'm interested whenever companies choose to take a stand on divisive issues, knowing that one segment of the population will applaud the decision and another segment will deride it. And the subject of mandatory vaccinations is definitely a divisive issue. Taking a stand on a social issue can be beneficial for companies willing to do so: even though "the haters" may call for boycotts, those who support the decision can be transformed into passionate brand advocates. The result is often a net positive because many of "the haters" were looking for a reason to hate and were never going to be customers anyway. Nike offers a terrific example of this: on September 3, 2018, when the company launched its Dream Crazy campaign starring controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick, some people were so upset that they decided to burn their shoes. But many others applauded Nike's decision to stand behind the athlete and his opinions. Nike's share price dipped immediately after the campaign launched, but if you have a look today, you'll see the company is doing just fine.
And second, I'm interested in positioning. In this specific case, it's about how Disney is positioning itself as an employer and as a corporation, and about how applicants can position themselves as viable candidates. What Disney (and other companies who have mandated vaccinations) are saying is that you're absolutely free not to get vaccinated, but if that's your decision, we're probably not the right company for you.
Will we start to see candidates include "I'm fully vaccinated" on their cover letters?
But that likely won't be necessary: having a company clearly communicate that employees need to be fully vaccinated before they begin work means candidates unwilling to get vaccinated need not apply in the first place.
Is this policy fair? I don't know. I'm not a doctor, a lawyer, or an ethicist.
But I am a marketer... who's already been fully vaccinated.
Disney, take note.
* Interestingly, the email makes no mention of what happens in instances where employees or applicants cannot be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons, something that will almost certainly need to be addressed.