Disney heiress Abigail Disney continued her denunciation of excessive executive pay on Wednesday.
During a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee, Disney -- who is the great-granddaughter of Walt Disney Company co-founder Roy Disney -- called out American companies for perpetuating vast inequality between employees and their CEOs, blasting corporate executives for their “addiction” to money all while paying their workers less than a living wage.
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“This is not just a question of what is moral or what is right,” she said in prepared remarks. “There’s an important economic case to be made for addressing inequality across the spectrum. In tolerating such extreme unfairness, we have begun to cannibalize the very people that make this economy thrive.”
Disney made headlines last month when she lambasted Disney CEO Bob Iger’s compensation of $65.6 million as “insane.” She estimated that equals about $21,000 per hour, assuming Iger works a 60-hour week with no vacations. That number, she said, should probably be closer to $10,000 per hour (roughly $31 million annually).
In 2018, Iger earned 1,424 times more than the median Disney employee. She addressed that again on Wednesday, saying she had privately reached out to Iger to raise these issues “quietly and politely and behind the scenes,” but was ultimately brushed aside.
Disney then urged the company -- which acquired Fox television and film assets earlier this year, making it the world’s largest media entity -- to become a leader in addressing income inequality.
For instance, she argued that Disney could take half of this year’s executive bonuses, place them in a dedicated trust fund to help workers with emergency needs; rehabilitate housing near its parks to ensure people have shorter commutes; restore the employee stock option program for all employees; make food available to employees; and create two or three seats on its board for employee representatives, elected by their peers.
“There is nothing inherently wrong with an 8-figure payoff—unless there are people at the same company rationing their insulin,” she said. “Then it is simply unacceptable. And the CEO has a moral obligation to know what life is like for the low wage workers under his own roof.”
Disney does not hold a position within the company.