Heir to Disney urges company to donate 50% of executive bonuses to lowest-paid employees

Abigail Disney has no problem calling out her family’s company in regards to executive pay.

The granddaughter of the company co-founder, Roy Disney, penned an opinion piece in the Washington Post, where she acknowledged how she “struck a nerve with a Twitter thread about wage inequality at the Walt Disney Co.”

“I believe that Disney could well lead the way, if its leaders so chose, to a more decent, humane way of doing business,” she wrote in the piece.

She suggested that the company put aside half of the bonuses its executives earn — distributing that to the bottom 10% of Disney’s 200,000 employees.

Pictured: Abigail Disney
Image via flickr

Six of Disney’s top executives, according to a regulatory filing, received stock awards and options worth a combined $62 million last year.

This does not include the additional bonuses and potentially millions of dollars more earned by lower-tier executives.

“Besides, at the pay levels we are talking about, an executive giving up half his bonus has zero effect on his quality of life,” she pens.

“For the people at the bottom, it could mean a ticket out of poverty or debt. It could offer access to decent health care or an education for a child.”

Her rant on Twitter soon became viral.

“By any objective measure a pay ratio over a thousand is insane,” she said of Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger’s pay package — which stacks up to $66 million.

Pictured: Bob Iger
Image via Wikimedia Commons

If you do the math on that, it is 1,424 times that of the median salary of a Disney employee of $46,127.

“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,” she said.

The company says it pays above the $7.25-an-hour federal minimum wage.

By 2021, workers at its Florida resorts will make $15 per hour by 2021 but employees at Disneyland in California had their pay increased to $15 an hour at this start of the year.

That being said — Abigail says it still is not enough.

“This argument fails to acknowledge that the cost of living varies from place to place and few can make do on that, no matter where they live,” she posted.

Image via Public Domain Pictures

“At a company that has never been more profitable, whose top executives drive home with seven- and eight-figure paychecks and whose primary resource is the good-spirited, public-facing people who greet guests day after day, why are we dancing around a minimum wage anyway?,” she continued.

Abigal Disney explained that while she does believe executives deserve bonuses, the “people who contribute to its success also deserve a share of the profits they have helped make happen.”

In 2018, the Disney company reported a record profit.

“Here is my suggestion to the Walt Disney Co. leadership. Lead,” she stated. “Reward all of your workers fairly. Don’t turn away when they tell you they are unable to make ends meet. You do not exist merely for the benefit of shareholders and managers.”

The Disney company then responded, saying it has made “historic investments” in its workers’ pay and benefits.

Image via pxhere

This includes education initiatives that allow hourly employees to earn a college or vocational degree “completely free of charge.”

In addition, the company says it has upped the starting hourly salary at Disneyland to $15 as well as pledged up to $150 million to the education effort.

The company then defended Iger’s salary, saying it is “90% performance-based. He has delivered exceptional value for shareholders: Disney’s market capitalization has grown exponentially over the last decade, rising $75 billion in the last month alone, and the stock price has increased to $132 a share from $24 a share when Mr. Iger became CEO in 2005,” a Disney spokesperson shared with CNN Business.

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