Disney heiress Abigail Disney has always been critical of massive private wealth, and she’s put her beliefs into practice by giving away over $70 million dollars of her own inheritance. She disparages others’ inordinate riches as well as her own; recently she denounced Bob Iger, the CEO of The Walt Disney Company, for his exorbitant annual pay package, which reached nearly $65 million in 2018.
Abigail’s criticism of Disney CEO pay has been fomenting for years. In her college years, her family’s Disney stock grew 50-fold seemingly overnight. In an interview with The Cut, Abigail expressed her dismay at the uprooting of her relatively normal upper-middle class sensibilities. Suddenly surrounded by the upper echelons of society, Abigail noticed that egotism and grandeur were part and parcel of the lives of the wealthy. She discusses her family’s burgeoning vanity after her father’s purchase of a Boeing 737 private jet, explaining that “it wasn’t just the plane, but it’s not a small thing when you don’t have to be patient or be around other people. It creates this notion that you’re a little bit better than they are.”
The grandeur of her family’s lifestyle created a separation between them and the rest of society, which had an irrevocable effect on her ability to form relationships with others. This is partly why Abigail so vocally opposes the activities of the affluent, believing that such excess removes humility and humanity from their experiences.
This past April, Abigail Disney took to Twitter to express concern over Bob Iger’s pay, stating, “It’s time to call out my family’s company—and anyone else rich off their worker’s backs.” She also remarked on the gap between Iger’s salary and the median pay for employees of The Walt Disney Company, calling the difference of 1,400 times “insane.”
The Walt Disney Company responded that Iger had been fairly compensated according to his exceptional performance as CEO: under his guidance, the company’s stock price surged from $24 a share to $133 per share. The company also confirmed the implementation of a $15 minimum wage for its workers, which is twice the federal minimum wage. The Walt Disney Company also recently made vast improvements to its employee education initiatives, allotting $150 million to ensure hourly employees can obtain a college or vocational degree at no additional charge.
Whether or not you agree with Abigail Disney’s assertions, her criticism of the privileged is, according to many, refreshing and enlightening. In fact, if she had it her way, she would “pass a law against private jets, because they enable you to get around a certain reality.” Disney continues her philanthropic engagement as the founder of Level Forward, a start-up that supports women in media.