Disney Heiress Calls Out Company's Worker Pay Practices
After stirring a flurry of reactions over her Tweets calling out wage inequality at the Walt Disney Co. on Sunday, Abigail Disney, a filmmaker and philanthropist who is the grand niece of Walt Disney, penned an opinion column outlining her arguments against Disney’s pay practices.
In her op-ed, which was published in the Washington Post with the headline “It’s time to call out my family’s company — and anyone else rich off their workers’ backs,” Disney said the pay of Robert Iger (which she says was $65 million in 2018, according to Equilar) was “naked indecency.”
“That’s 1,424 times the median pay of a Disney worker. To put that gap in context, in 1978, the average CEO made about 30 times a typical worker’s salary. Since 1978, CEO pay has grown by 937 percent, while the pay of an average worker grew just 11.2 percent,” pointed Disney, adding that this “growth in inequality has affected every corner of American life.”
She said Disney gave more than 125,000 employees a $1,000 bonus in in 2018 but then spent $3.6 billion to “buy shares back to drive up its stock price and thus enrich its shareholders.”
Disney issued a statement to Fast Company about its compensation, saying that “Disney has made historic investments to expand the earning potential and upward mobility of our workers, implementing a starting hourly wage of $15 at Disneyland that’s double the federal minimum wage.”
But the Disney heiress said the company has also lobbied against a ballot initiative to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour for certain employees in Anaheim. The ballot eventually passed last November.
She ended her op-ed suggesting that the Walt Disney Co. leadership start “(rewarding) all the people who make (the company) successful, help rebuild the American middle class and respect the dignity of the men and women who work just as hard as (they) do to make Disney the amazing company it is.”