Disney boss and fat paycheck-haver Bob Iger believes “the whole subject of income inequality is very, very real.” Iger acknowledged the haves and have-nots at a Vanity Fair event today in Beverly Hills, where the executive defended the $66 million compensation package he received last year in exchange for sticking around the Frozen factory a tad longer.
The CEO was asked by Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Radhika Jones about his 2018 payout, his stance on whether “excessive wealth” is “corrosive to democracy,” as well as whether he’d back the sort of taxation proposals coming from 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. First, Iger joked about passing the question to filmmaker Jon Favreau—then, he proceeded to talk around it.
Iger described his compensation as “a one-time grant” connected to the “responsibilities” he took on in the merger of Disney and Fox. He said, “It’s not something that repeats itself year after year,” and “I was given that because I was leaving Disney this year, and I was given that as part of an agreement for me to stay three years.”
The award ballooned his pay to 1,424 times the income of the median Disney worker, according to a report by Equilar. The payout even won a public critique from Abigail Disney, the filmmaker and granddaughter of Roy Disney, who called the compensation “insane” at Fast Company‘s first Impact Council event in April.
“When he got his bonus last year, I did the math, and I figured out that he could have given personally, out of pocket, a 15% raise to everyone who worked at Disneyland, and still walked away with $10 million,” said Disney (Iger, of course, did not). “So there’s a point at which there’s just too much going around the top of the system into this class of people who—I’m sorry this is radical—have too much money. There is such a thing.”
On one hand, we have the pot calling the kettle black. On the other, if an heir to an entertainment fortune is publicly put off by your pay package, perhaps it’s time to just come out and own your role in perpetuating systemic inequality. (Iger, of course, did not.)
“I happen to believe that the whole subject of income inequality is very, very real,” said Iger. The Disney CEO went on to promote the company’s free education initiatives and added that “companies like Disney have a responsibility to step up and do their part.” Iger said he supports “look[ing] at taxation in general as a country” and said he wants the U.S. to “figure out if there’s a tax plan that makes sense that transfers more wealth from a small set of individuals to a larger set of individuals.”
On second thought, the words “if” and “makes sense” make Iger’s position on the matter pretty clear.