Appalled by the nation’s bitter political divide and the current occupant of the White House, Disney CEO Bob Iger considered running for president in the 2020 election.
The political aspiration, outlined in a Vogue profile, was cut short after Disney’s $52.4 billion acquisition of select 21st Century Fox assets, including 20th Century Fox, require Igor remain CEO through 2021.
Iger, who has repeatedly announced/cancelled retirement dates, actually thought about running in 2016, against the advice of his wife, Willow Bay. He has been Disney CEO since 2005.
“The thought I had was coming from the patriot in me, growing up at a time when we respected our politicians not only for what they stood for but because of what they accomplished,” Iger said.
Declaring himself to be “horrified at the state of politics in America today,” Iger contends there exists the opportunity for a presidential candidate who is more “open-minded” and willing to govern in a bi-partisan manner that would “shame everyone else into going to the middle.”
He reportedly has pushed Disney units Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm to diversify lead characters, and was a big supporter in the production of box office hit Black Panther, which features a predominantly black cast and was filmed almost entirely in Atlanta.
When local law makers sought to pass “religious freedom” legislation that would have enabled businesses to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, Iger publicly warned Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal that such a move would see Disney relocate its production business out-of-state. The bill was scuttled.
“On the business side, there is a case to be made for your product reflecting the world you’re trying to do business in,” Iger said. “But of course, there’s also an ethical side.”
Notably, Iger’s business stances run both ways. He was one of the first high-profile CEOs to quit Trump’s business advisory panel after the president announced U.S. plans to exit the Paris climate accord.
In 2016, Iger came under fire from Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders – a longtime critic of economics favoring the nation’s top 1% — when he accused Disney of paying Disneyland employees unlivable wages, among other labor-saving actions, while reaping billions in quarterly profit.
Iger, whose compensation at Disney ranks among the highest in corporate America, lashed back in a Facebook post.
“To Bernie Sanders: We created 11,000 new jobs at Disneyland in the past decade, and our company has created 18,000 in the U.S. in the last five years. How many jobs have you created? What have you contributed to the U.S. economy?”
Notably, Disney shareholders last month – in a non-binding vote – rejected an executive compensation plan that would pay Iger upwards of $48.5 million annually over the next four years, in addition to a $100 million equity grant.
Disney’s board has not made a final ruling on Iger’s compensation package.