By CCN: Roy Disney’s granddaughter Abigail Disney described Disney CEO Bob Iger’s annual compensation package worth $65 million as “insane.” On the surface, this is an admirable sentiment when taking into account that low-paid employees working at the so-called ‘happiest place in the world’ often struggle to survive earning $15 per hour. The support of the Disney co-founder’s granddaughter would probably mean a lot to Disney employees in their struggle for better pay and working conditions.
There is just one problem. Abigail herself holds a significant amount of Disney shares which make up the vast majority of her estimated net worth of $500 million. While being rich does not in and of itself make her a hypocrite for criticizing perceived corporate excess, it does raise the question of who exactly gets to be the woke social critic between an overpaid CEO and a wealthy individual whose entire fortune was inherited.
Let me very clear. I like Bob Iger. I do NOT speak for my family but only for myself. Other than owning shares (not that many) I have no more say in what happens there than anyone else. But by any objective measure a pay ratio over a thousand is insane. https://t.co/O34OjXd6rr
— Abigail Disney (@abigaildisney) April 21, 2019
‘Insane’ Is Subjective
Disney made the comments during a discussion about humane capitalism at an annual Fast Company Impact Council panel session. She inferred that Iger’s pay package was excessive based on her own subjective personal opinion, saying:
“When [Iger] 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 $10 million. 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.”
It is one thing for Iger to be overpaid, which in all fairness he probably is. It is another thing altogether for the person pointing it out to epitomize all that is inherently unfair about capitalism. Overpaid or not, it is fair to say that Iger has worked to earn his position, making his way to the top through the difficult corporate route that normal people have to take. He did not have the option of winning the genetic wealth lottery, so who is to say that he does not deserve whatever he is being paid now? Certainly not Abigail Disney.
Do We Need Abigail’s Wealthy Wokeness?
Disney is known for lending her voice to various platforms that are critical toward corporate excess. In 2017, she came out strongly against Donald Trump’s corporate tax cut, which she argued would benefit the already rich rather than the middle class.
Admirable as this ‘wokeness’ may seem, there is a real question as to whether it actually has any effect or comes across as hollow and patronizing. Disney is a rich heiress who has never had to experience a day in the life of an ordinary person. She may publicly criticize Iger, but she also made no mention of letting go of any of her shares in the corporation.
Her excuse is that her shareholding is too tiny to make any real difference and so her voice is all she has. Be that as it may, the facts of her unique situation mean that she would probably be better off not trying to eat her cake and have it. Enjoy your wealth, Abigail. Just don’t pretend to be one of us.