Abigail Disney is a social activist, philanthropist, and Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker, but she’s also the granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, the co-founder of The Walt Disney Company, making her the heir to the Disney fortune. 60 years old, she still declines to say how much she has inherited, but she has donated over $70 million since she turned 21. The article I read from CNN Business is about Abigail’s reaction to Disney’s decision to furlough hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers while they pay their executives millions in the meantime- “What the actual f*ck?!”
Abigail stated that not only did the executives pay themselves big bonuses but they also issued dividends to shareholders after they decided to get rid of thousands of people’s jobs that “aren’t necessary at this time”. The employees Disney decided to furlough were from parks, resorts and entertainment productions divisions, who comprise more than 75% of the company’s employees with 223,000 people.
Last year, Bob Iger, the former CEO, now Disney’s chairman as of February, made over $47 million last year, which was 911 times the median worker’s salary. Abigail has criticized Disney in the past saying for executives “collecting egregious bonuses for years”, and now is all but shaming them for failing to take care of their employees in a just and ethical manner. Thankfully, this criticism from Abigail has led to current CEO Bob Chapek to take a 50% pay reduction during this time, while Bob Iger has agreed to cut his entire salary during the pandemic.
I wanted to write about this article because I find it encouraging that Abigail Disney feels the need to be, and always has felt, that being a critic of The Walt Disney Company is important because while she holds no official position there, she is the one who will inherit the Disney fortune and she wants to make sure that the legacy of her family’s company is one that is moral and ethical. I also find it to be an even more powerful example and that she is really heard, even when going on a twitter rant because while she’s an outside perspective, she is a direct beneficiary of Disney’s profits.