Disney defends huge salaries for its top execs after scathing editorial by Abigail Disney

Ben Arnold
Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger (Credit: AFP Photo/CHIP SOMODEVILLA)

Disney has defended the multi-million dollar salaries it pays its top executives, following an excoriating editorial from Abigail Disney.

The studio heiress called the pay packet of Disney CEO Bob Iger – who earned $65.6 million last year – ‘insane’.

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Disney highlighted the inequality of his remuneration in a series of tweets, after which she was given her own op-ed column in the Washington Post.

She noted that Iger’s pay was 1,424 that of the average salary made by Disney employees, with the column’s headline appealing ‘It’s time to call out my family’s company — and anyone else rich off their workers’ backs’.

“To put that gap in context, in 1978, the average CEO made about 30 times a typical worker’s salary. Since 1978, CEO pay has grown by 937 percent, while the pay of an average worker grew just 11.2 percent,” she wrote.

Abigail Disney (Credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Women’s Media Center)

“I have been quietly grumbling about this issue for some time now, uncertain how public to be. It is time to call out the men and women who lead us and to draw a line in the sand about how low we are prepared to let hard-working people sink while top management takes home ever-more-outrageous sums of money.”

But in a statement given to the New York Times, the Mouse House has defended what it pays its employees.

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“Disney has made historic investments to expand the earning potential and upward mobility of our workers, implementing a starting hourly wage of $15 at Disneyland that’s double the federal minimum wage,” it said.

It also defended Iger’s pay, saying that under his tenure, Disney stock has risen from $24 a share to $133 a share, ‘which directly benefits the literally thousands of employees who hold our stock’.

Abigail Disney is the granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, who founded the company with his brother Walt Disney in 1923.

The Disney family have had no involvement in the running of the media giant since Roy E. Disney, Abigail Disney’s father, left the company’s board in 2003.