Disney has joined the list of companies implementing sizable pay cuts for senior executives amid the upheaval caused by the coronavirus crisis.
Bob Iger, who shifted from chairman-CEO to executive chairman last month, has opted to forgo his salary for the year. Bob Chapek, who succeeded Iger as CEO, has taken a 50% pay cut. Disney outlined the changes in a memo to staffers sent Monday morning.
The cuts call for a 20% reduction in salary for all VP level executives starting April 5. Senior VPs will see a 25% pay cut while executive VPs and above will see a 30% cut.
The move comes as Disney is facing an unexpected economic shock amid the shutdowns and aggressive social distancing measures that forced the shutdown of Disney theme parks and resort operations in the U.S. and beyond. Disney has committed to continuing paying its hourly parks employees through at least April 18.
Chapek noted that the acceleration of the COVID-19 outbreak has changed the economic picture for the company dramatically in a matter of weeks.
“In a matter of weeks, we’ve experienced widespread disruption across our company, with our domestic parks and hotels closed indefinitely, our cruise line suspended, our film and TV production halted and theatrical distribution delayed both domestically and internationally, and our retail stores shut down,” Chapek wrote. “While I am confident we will get through this challenging period together and emerge even stronger, we must take necessary steps to manage the short- and long-term financial impact on our company.”
Iger’s annual compensation has become a source of criticism for Disney at times given the high value of the Disney shares that he has collected over his long tenure at the company and the larger focus among some activists on CEO pay. In 2019, Iger’s compensation package totaled $48 million, largely in stock and bonuses tied to the company’s strong performance.
With his promotion to CEO, Chapek had been in line to earn $2.5 million in salary plus bonuses of up to $22.5 million.
Here is Chapek’s full memo:
Dear Fellow Employee,
Our world is facing an unprecedented crisis that has fundamentally upended our lives, creating uncertainty and hardship – while, at the same time, spurring kindness and compassion. And although there are still many unknowns with respect to the impacts of COVID-19, our top priority remains your safety and well-being.
As we’ve seen, the coronavirus poses significant health risks and has exacted a grave toll on so many lives. As such, it’s more important than ever that all of us follow the guidance of health experts and take the necessary precautions, including continuing to work from home, wherever possible, and practicing social distancing. By doing so, we also help to protect our loved ones, neighbors, and friends.
This is a trying period for all of us and as we navigate these challenging times together and make adjustments in our daily lives, we’re grateful for everyone’s continued flexibility and understanding.
The pandemic is also having a devastating impact on the global and U.S. economies, and it’s hitting businesses like ours particularly hard. In a matter of weeks, we’ve experienced widespread disruption across our company, with our domestic parks and hotels closed indefinitely, our cruise line suspended, our film and TV production halted and theatrical distribution delayed both domestically and internationally, and our retail stores shut down. While I am confident we will get through this challenging period together and emerge even stronger, we must take necessary steps to manage the short- and long-term financial impact on our company.
In light of this, we are going to be implementing a variety of necessary measures designed to better position us to weather these extraordinary challenges. Among them, we will be asking our senior executives to help shoulder the burden by taking a reduction in pay – effective April 5, all VPs will have their salaries reduced by 20%, SVPs by 25%, and EVPs and above by 30%. I will be taking a 50% reduction in my salary. This temporary action will remain in effect until we foresee a substantive recovery in our business. Our executive chairman, Bob Iger, has chosen to forgo 100% of his salary.
As we navigate through these uncharted waters, we’re asking much of you and, as always, you are rising to the challenge and we appreciate your support. Your dedication and resilience during this difficult time are truly inspiring, and it gives me renewed confidence that we will come through this crisis even stronger than before, as we have so many times in our company’s history.
Please continue to take care of yourself and your loved ones, stay well, and know that we are here to support you.