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Abigail Disney speaks on October 29, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
Abigail Disney speaks on October 29, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

Kingdom crasher

Disney heiress won’t be silenced on the outrageous inequality in the company her family built

By WITW Staff on April 26, 2019

Documentary filmmaker Abigail Disney is speaking out about how companies like the Walt Disney Company, which was founded by her grandfather and great-uncle, are actively contributing to growing wage inequality across the U.S.

After going viral with a Twitter thread calling out the “naked indecency” of the outsized compensation awarded to Disney CEO Robert Iger, Ms. Disney authored a subsequent op-ed in the Washington Post to expand upon why she took exception to Iger’s reported 2018 salary of $65 million.

“That’s 1,424 times the median pay of a Disney worker,” she wrote. “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.”

The ongoing boom in upper-management pay, she argues, is being accelerated as the super-rich use their wealth to manipulate “politicians, policies and social messaging to pad their already grotesque advantages.” This influence, she claims, results in bills such as the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which slashed corporate taxes to the tune of billions of dollars in added revenue for many companies, Disney among them.

The Walt Disney Company spent $125 million to award more than 125,000 employees a $1,000 bonus after the tax cut. But that seemingly large sum, she notes, is only 0.03 percent of the $3.6 billion spent by the company to buy back its shares and create massive profits for its shareholders.

“Given that about 85 percent of stocks are held by the richest people in the country, this was a significant new investment in wealth inequality,” she wrote.

If her grandfather’s company were to give half of Iger’s executive bonus to the 200,000 employees working at Disney, she continued, it could help families pay for health care, get out of debt, and send their children to school without affecting Iger’s quality of life at all. So why not, she asked, try to make Disney a company that actually empowers all of the people working to make it successful, instead of just rewarding the few at the top?

Read the full story at the Washington Post.

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