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CEO Who Took Massive Bonus Goes Viral For Blasting Workers Who Complained About Losing Bonuses

MillerKnoll CEO Andi Owen scolded employees to 'leave pity city' after complaining about losing bonuses, but she had taken a seven figure bonus for herself.

Twitter screenshot of Andi Owen

MillerKnoll CEO Andi Owen's recent outburst at an internal staff meeting has sparked a viral moment that's made headlines, and not in a positive light. The video clip of Owen's pep talk to motivate the staff to hit a sales target has drawn criticism from the public.

The undated video shows Owen addressing employees' concerns about the potential loss of their bonus. In response, she said they should not "spend their time" worrying about the bonuses they didn't receive and instead concentrate on the money the company actually needed to make.

You can hear what Owen said in the video below.

Owen said:

“Don’t ask about ‘What are we going to do if we don’t get a bonus?’ Get the damn $26 million. Spend your time and your effort thinking about the $26 million we need, and not thinking about what you’re going to do if you don’t get a bonus, all right?” ...
“I had an old boss who said to me one time ‘You can visit Pity City, but ya can’t live there,’” she said, “so people—leave Pity City.”

Owen, who joined MillerKnoll in 2018 after a long career at Gap, describes herself as a "defender of equity and inclusion" on her private Instagram account.

However, her statement has raised questions about her commitment to equity and fairness, particularly as the majority of her pay package is based on incentive-based compensation, like most CEOs. For the fiscal year to May 2022, this amounted to $3.9 million on top of her fixed salary of $1.1 million.

The incident has sparked discussions about the importance of workplace culture and the role of management in motivating employees.

Many people have criticized Owen for her harsh words, saying that they don't create a positive environment that motivates people to work harder.

The occurrence is in line with recent cases of CEOs who appear to feel entitled behaving insensitively towards their employees.

In late 2021, Better CEO Vishal Garg found himself at the center of controversy after he laid off 900 employees, 9% of the company's workforce, over a Zoom call just one day after receiving a $750 million cash infusion as part of a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.

Emails that surfaced at the time show that Garg berated Howard Newman of the investment firm Pine Brook Partners, a top venture capital investor, calling him "sewage" and an "ingrate and a thug and a miserable miser" after plans to take Better public fell apart.

Employees have also criticized Better's toxic work culture, with one former employee saying that Garg, who “leads by fear,” would "threaten employees to work harder, faster and not be lazy, but there was never clarity on what the consequences might be.”