Former Disney CEO Bob Iger Speaks About Importance of Corporate Statements and Regrets Not Raising Disney Minimum Wage Sooner
In this week’s episode of “Who’s Talking To Chris Wallace?” on CNN+, Wallace spoke to former Disney CEO Bob Iger. Iger spoke about why it is important for corporate leaders to make statements regarding issues like climate change, immigration, and legislation.
He said in the interview, “A lot of these issues are not necessarily political. It’s about right and wrong. So I happened to feel, and I tweeted an opinion about the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in Florida. To me, it wasn’t about politics. It is about what is right and what is wrong, and that just seemed wrong. It seemed potentially harmful to kids.”
Iger also said about climate change and immigration, “I had to contend with this a lot, and the filter that I used to determine whether we should or should not weigh in considered a few factors. What would its impact have on our employees, on our shareholders, and our customers? And if any one of those three constituencies had a deep interest in or would be affected by whatever was the matter at hand, then it was something I thought we should consider weighing in on.”
Wallace asked if Iger considered if the statements were “going to tick off people.”
“There are going to be people who aren’t going to like what [you] are saying,” Wallace said, “and maybe that means fewer people will come to the theme park.”
Iger responded, “We never really saw much evidence of that, even though there were threats about boycotts on certain things. Again, when you are dealing with right and wrong, and when you are dealing with something that does have a profound impact on your business, I just think you have to do what is right and not worry about the potential backlash to it.”
“You were making that year 1,000 times what the average Disney employee was making,” Wallace said. “Do you have any misgivings about that?”
“I’ve never been defensive about what I made,” Iger said. “I was paid at a level that was commensurate with what most heads of large media companies were paid throughout my tenure and often less than, interestingly enough, and Disney was among the most complex and the largest and the most successful of them all.”
He said that Disney created more jobs during his tenure and that employees receiving minimum wage also “earned overtime, got good benefits, and were promoted over time as well.” He also pointed to the launch of the Disney Aspire program, which helps pay for the education of hourly employees.
“If I have regrets,” he went on, “it would be one, and that is that, we were one of the first companies, by the way, to go to $10 an hour as the starting wage. We were being pushed to go to 15. There was some hesitation in that regard because of the cost associated with it. We should have done that right away. My opinion.”