"Leave pity city!": CEO who made millions in bonuses scolds workers for asking about bonus (VIDEO)

Apr 19 2023, 4:46 pm

The CEO of a major American furniture company is under fire for her unempathetic conduct towards employees after a company video meeting surfaced online.

On her Instagram, Andi Owen, the CEO of MillerKnoll, describes herself as a “mother, wife, design addict, champion of the planet, and defender of equity and inclusion.” However, in light of recent events, her intent for equity in the workplace is being called into question.

On April 3, a YouTube profile named Darren Debski uploaded a screen-recorded clip of Owen from a company meeting.

MillerKnoll CEO blasting an employee’s question of why employees would not be receiving bonuses in 2023,” reads the video’s caption. “Perfect example of a true narcissist that does not care at all about the people under them, making THEM millions. $4.9 million in 2022.”

The clip went viral after it was cross-posted on Twitter on Sunday. It starts with Owen addressing an employee named Chris.

“You know, a lot of questions came through about how can we stay motivated if we’re not going to get a bonus. ‘What can we do, what can we do?’ Some of them were nice, and some of them were not so nice,” Owen begins calmly.

“So I’m going to address this head-on. The most important thing we can do right now is focus on the things that we can control,” she says, adding that nobody could’ve predicted the COVID-19 pandemic, supply-chain issues, or bank failures.

“But what we can do is stay in front of our customers, provide the best customer service we can, get our orders out our door, treat each other well, be kind, be respectful. Focus on the future because it will be bright. It’s not good to be in the situation we’re in today. But we’re not going to be here forever. It is going to get better. So lead, lead by example. Treat people well. Talk to them. Be kind and get after it,” the CEO reminds MillerKnoll employees.

Then, a sudden and ironic shift in her tone occurs.

Owen sounds irritated and begins scolding employees for asking about bonuses — a departure from her spiel about kindness.

“Don’t ask about ‘what are we going to do’ if you don’t get a bonus! Get the damn $26 million!” she yells. “Spend your time and your effort thinking about the $26 million we need and not thinking about what you’re going to do if we don’t get a bonus! All right? Can I get some commitment for that? I would appreciate that.”

The CEO then recounts how a former employer of hers told her, “You can visit pity city, but you can’t live there.”

“So, people, leave pity city! Let’s get it done. Thank you. Have a great day!” she concludes, gesturing a mic drop while visibly frustrated.

But leaving pity city is probably easy when you make millions a year.

According to government documents, in 2022, Owen made USD$1,100,000 (around CAD $1,480,000) in base salary.

A more significant portion of her income from MillerKnoll came in bonuses. As part of the company’s annual and long-term incentive plans, the CEO made nearly USD$4 million on top of her salary.

The documents also stated that Owen has served as MillerKnoll’s CEO and president since August 2018. Before she joined MillerKnoll, she “served a 25-year career at Gap Inc., where she most recently acted as global president of Banana Republic, leading 11,000 employees in over 600 stores across 27 countries.”

“Andi is confident in the team and our collective potential,” MillerKnoll spokesperson Kris Marubio said in a statement to NPR. However, the company claimed the clip was “taken out of context and struck a nerve.”

The video came at a time when discussions about CEO salaries and bonuses were already gaining pace. Inflation continues to make it harder for workers to afford housing, food, and other necessities.

On Twitter, people are expressing disappointment in Owen’s behaviour.

One Twitter user, Kelechi, implied that Owen’s behaviour was a prime example of the comical “gaslight, gatekeep, girl boss” mantra.

No one’s holding back.

What are your thoughts on this case and sky-high CEO payouts in general?

Let us know in the comments.

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