Abigail Disney Shares that The Walt Disney Company “Needs to be Saved From Itself”. Recently, Disney Heiress Abigail Disney spoke with THR about her concerns with The Walt Disney Company. The granddaughter of Roy O. Disney has always been outspoken about her feelings regarding the business her grandfather helped to build and has expressed concern for years over the structure changes and the treatment of lower level employees. Many members of the Disney family have built on Walt’s quote, “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality,” over the years, but Abigail has been fighting to bring more attention to TWDC’s practices and treatment of those in their employ to the public on behalf of Cast Members around the world.
Disney shared with THR’s Kim Masters, “I don’t believe that the company and the magic can survive this kind of corporate behavior, I don’t think that the brand, as solid gold as it is, will last. And it is the kind of brand that is so enormous and all-encompassing and people invest so much into it, I don’t think it will erode slowly, it will fall over like a great sequoia … I am a little bit about saving the company over the long term. I think the company needs to be saved from itself.”
One aspect that is highly concerning for Abigail is the unwillingness of corporate leaders to acknowledge the lack of compensation for front line workers in the company while they continue to bring in record bonuses and pay increases for themselves year after year as cast members go homeless or without food. Over the past few years there have been many instances where cast members were caught trying to syphon off the companies earnings themselves to make ends meet and subsequently were fired for doing so. Though that behavior obviously can not be tolerated there may have been a different story or outcome if they didn’t feel pressure on their finances at the time.
“The high, high compensation at the top tends to come as a reward for pushing down compensation at the bottom. When I try and draw a direct line between how the C-suite is paid and how the hourly workers are paid, when I try to draw a direct line between some of those things, I think they look at me like I am speaking in some kind of alien language, because to them that is the dumbest thing they have ever heard. To them there is no relationship between what we pay a line worker or a shift worker and what we pay Bob Iger. Let’s not pretend that [employees that get laid off] go somewhere and disappear; they lose their houses, they are homeless, and they have to steal things to eat.”
Disney has also shared she understands her privilege as an heiress, but feels the company has taken a turn away from what matters most and greed is a large aspect of the issues she sees in many corporate positions. Abigail shared, “My grandfather made a lot of money, and he provided for me and my children of course, he wasn’t shy about taking compensation,” Disney says. “I’m not talking about ownership, I am saying are you willing to put everything you have up again and again and again, every single time, with the chance of losing everything, because that is what my grandfather did … He would never have taken a $66 million payday, never. And not because he was a perfect guy, but because it wasn’t done, it just wasn’t done.”
“There is no question it’s baffling, there is probably something to know in the fact that it was baffling, because he doesn’t do things that way,” Disney elaborates, “[Iger] is a nice man and a great manager, I have nothing personal against him, but his strategy from day one was to buy Pixar, buy Lucasfilm, he was a purchaser of creativity which added and added to the machine.”
Abigail added that she has not only become disappointed in the company structure, but is highly disgruntled over the appointment of Bob Chapek to The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors and feels the company is lacking in originality and storytelling, the key components that set Disney apart from other studios and companies in the first place.
“It was extremely disappointing to see a person who never held a creative job in his life take over the company,” Disney added. “It is just a business, it is the deli, they are selling salami, and they are slicing it as thin as they can possibly slice it, because they are not making any more salami.”
Do you agree with Abigail’s concerns? Should The Walt Disney Company heed her warnings? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Be sure to check back here at Chip and Co. for updates for all things Disney!
Featured Photo Credit: CNBC/via YouTube/The Walt Disney Company