Monday, April 22, 2019

Too much money

An heir to the Walt Disney fortune has described the $65.6m (£50.5m) paid to the company’s chief executive, Bob Iger, as “insane”.

Abigail Disney, an Emmy award-winning film-maker and a granddaughter of the company’s co-founder Roy Disney, said it was outrageous that Iger was paid 1,424 times more than the average pay for a Disney employee last year. Iger’s 2018 pay package increased by 80% from $36.3m in 2017. He also collected $43.9m in 2016.
In another speech she gave last week she said Iger was a “good man” who had performed well at Disney and deserved a bonus, but such huge pay deals “had a corrosive effect on society”. She explained “When he got his bonus last year, I did the math, and I figured out that he could have given personally, out of pocket, a 15% raise to everyone who worked at Disneyland, and still walked away with $10m,” she said a. “So there’s a point at which there’s just too much going around the top of the system into this class of people who – I’m sorry this is radical – have too much money. There is such a thing.” 

Having spoken to  workers in Disneyland, it was clear to her they deserved and needed a rise. She said many Disneyland workers were struggling to pay for essentials such as medicine. Abigail Disney argued it was not enough for the company to commit to paying double the minimum wage. “We all know the federal minimum is too low to live on,” she said. “So why must we, at a company that’s more profitable than it’s ever been, be paying anything so close to the least the law allows?”

She said the Walt Disney Company was not doing enough to reward those who kept it running every day. Specifically, she called on corporate executives to give employees pay rises, rather than one-off bonuses. A rise, she said, would dramatically improve the living standards of workers while having little to no impact on top earners. “Maybe they can’t afford a third home, or another boat,” she said on Twitter. “I’m not being facetious here. That’s the kind of sacrifice we’d be talking about for high-level execs.”

Responding to criticism directed at her for taking a stand against excessive executive pay, Abigail Disney said: “Pointing out the incongruity of pay at the top and pay at the bottom provokes a reaction because it so violates our innate sense of fairness, it is impossible not to wince.”

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