'I've been holding my tongue': Disney heir criticises company's bonuses
Abigail Disney has hit out at The Walt Disney Company for protecting executive bonuses and dividends, while at the same time laying off nearly half its workforce.
The American filmmaker said she had been “holding her tongue” due to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic but felt now was the time to speak out.
Abigail is the granddaughter of Roy Disney, who co-founded The Walt Disney Company with his older brother Walt in 1923.
Due to the impact of COVID-19, The Walt Disney Company has furloughed more than 100,000 workers in its theme parks and hotels across the world.
The suspensions in Europe, the US and Asia will save the company around $500m (£406m) a month.
However, incentive schemes of more than $1.5bn (£1.2bn) will still be given out to company executives.
In a damning chain of messages on her official Twitter page, Abigail said “the company must do better”.
The thread of 25 posts began: “OK, I’ve been holding my tongue on the theory that a pandemic is no time to be calling people out on anything other than failing us in a public health sense. I thought it might be a moment for peace and reconciliation. But I feel a thread coming on….”
She has previously been critical of the “insane” pay and compensation received by ex-Disney chief executive Bob Iger. In 2018 he was paid $65.7m (£53m).
She has also claimed that chief executives are generally “paid far too much”.
Her tweets went on: “Look, dividends aren’t ALL bad, given the number of fixed income folks who rely on them. But still 80% of shares are owned by the wealthiest 10%. So that excuse only goes so far.
“But the REAL outrage is, of course, those bonuses. All 1.5 billion of them. 1.5 BILLION. That’d pay for three months’ salary to front line workers.”
While Abigail doesn’t have a role at the company, she is an heir to the Disney family fortune.
Calling attention to her connection, she wrote: “I’m just a citizen who cares and I think that makes me free to say what I believe. But I am an heir. And I do carry this name with me everywhere. And I have a conscience which makes it very difficult for me to sit by when I see abuses taking place with that name attached to them.”
Other capitalised instructions to the company later in her posts included “choose to lead” and “be decent”.
Mr Iger and new Disney chief executive Bob Chapek have both made salary sacrifices this year amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Mr Iger gave up the remainder of his $3m (£2.4m) salary for 2020, and Mr Chapek is set to forgo half his $2.5m (£2m) base salary.
Abigail – who herself has a net worth of around $120m (£97m) – referred to the sacrifices as “a drop in the bucket to these guys”.
The Disney family is now understood to own just a small percentage of the previously family-run business.