The Disney heiress who slammed CEO Bob Iger's pay as 'insane' says she went undercover at Disneyland and was 'livid' when she saw how the company treats its employees
- Despite being one of its most public critics, Abigail Disney never sought a position in The Walt Disney Company, according to the Financial Times.
- Disney visited Disneyland undercover and the working conditions made her "livid," she told Yahoo News on July 15.
- Disney criticized the gap between CEO Bob Iger's paycheck and that of the company's lowest-level employees in May 2019, Business Insider previously reported.
- Disney told the Financial Times that she had already "caused as much trouble as if I had a seat on the board."
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Abigail Disney isn't happy with the way her great uncle's media empire is run — but she never considered taking a role in the company to try and change it from within, she told the Financial Times.
"I kind of caused as much trouble as if I had a seat on the board," Disney told the Financial Times, referring to her public criticism of Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger's pay. The heiress said that the gap between Iger's salary and that of Disneyland employees was a "moral issue" while testifying in front of the US House Committee on Financial Services in May. She has said that she'd previously raised the issue privately to no avail.
In an interview with Yahoo News, Disney said she visited Disneyland undercover after receiving a Facebook message from an upset employee. The working conditions at the Anaheim, California theme park made her "livid," Disney said. According to Disney, employees said they struggled to make guests feel welcome while knowing they weren't being paid enough to provide for their families.
"Bob needs to understand he's an employee, just the same as the people scrubbing gum off the sidewalk are employees," Disney told Yahoo News host Zainab Salbi, "and they're entitled to all the same dignity and human rights that he is."
Business Insider reported earlier this year that As You Sow, a non-profit focusing on promoting corporate responsibility estimates that Iger is paid 787 times more than the median salary of a Disney employee. In 2017, Iger earned more than $36 million.
Despite her desire to reform the company's pay policy, sitting on its board "would be a waste of my time," Disney said, according to the Financial Times.
One of the key mistakes boards of directors make is not engaging with new ideas and allowing meetings to become perfunctory, Stanford Graduate School of Business lecturer David Dodson previously told Business Insider. "If you leave those board meetings consistently prepared to do something differently because you learned something from the board meeting, that's the mark of a good board," Dodson said.
Even if Disney had wanted to, she believes that she and her siblings Tim, Roy, and Susan would not have been welcomed into the company. A dispute between their father, Roy E. Disney, and former CEO Micheal Eisner resulted in Eisner's firing in 2005. "No CEO in his right mind would ever let any one of us back on the board," Disney told the Financial Times.
Disney is not only concerned with the wealth gap inside the company. She was among a group of 19 ultra-wealthy Americans who signed an open letter to presidential candidates advocating for a moderate wealth tax in June. George Soros and members of the Pritzker and Gund families also signed. Disney's personal net worth is $120 million.
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