Controversy surrounding the Walt Disney Company is not new, but recent changes have brought on more criticism about the direction of the company.
Abigail Disney, granddaughter of Walt Disney’s brother Roy, directed a documentary that criticizes the current leadership and especially the pay inequality that exists in the company now. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24th. Here are some of the details from Disney’s documentary.
Abigail Disney’s documentary is titled “The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales” and focuses on the pay inequality between Disney leadership and Cast Members at Disneyland.
In the film, Disney follows four Cast Members and documents their “struggle to make ends meet on what the park pays them” (SFGATE). This isn’t the first time Disney has criticized the company for its treatment of Cast Members. In the past, she has communicated with Disney executives about her concerns, which were not always received well.
One example of the pay inequality that Disney showed in her film is that Cast Members “report knowing co-workers who have had to sleep in their cars, choose between medicine and food, and struggle to provide necessities for their families.”
At this point in the film, Disney said that she “cannot see [Roy Disney] taking $66 million home for a year’s work in the same year when at the same company, people can’t afford food. I don’t see that happening.”
The $66 million is in reference to Bob Iger’s 2018 salary. Disney noted that this salary is 2,000 times what a Disneyland custodian makes. She said, “In other words, a custodian would have to work for 2,000 years to make what Bob Iger makes in one.” Recent reports show that the salary of current Disney CEO Bob Chapek more than doubled in 2021.
The documentary takes a hopeful tone as Abigail Disney states that “the Walt Disney Company can and should lead by example in effecting change in corporate America’s treatment of its employees.” Disney reiterated that the leadership needs to improve their treatment of Cast Members because they have a moral obligation to those who work for the company.
Abigail Disney has said that “Disney is a long way from being the worst offender” when it comes to their treatment of employees. But since the Walt Disney Company is a leader in American business, “it has this incredible redemptive capacity to lead other companies into this new century and this new period of understanding.”
Note that the Disney family is no longer involved with managing the Walt Disney Company since Abigail’s father Roy E. Disney stepped down from the board in 2003. Bob Iger took over at that time, and when Iger stepped down in 2020, Bob Chapek took the reins.
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