The chief executive of furniture retailer MillerKnoll has gone viral, probably not the way she would want.
In a leaked Zoom call of the MillerKnoll town hall last month, CEO Andi Owen addressed concerns from employees over the company’s decision to withhold bonuses. It quickly descended into her lambasting staff for complaining about the move.
“Questions came through about, ‘How can we stay motivated if we’re not going to get a bonus?” she began the call. She firstly told employees to focus on things the company can control such as customer service.
“Don’t ask about: What are we going to do if we don’t get a bonus?” she said, becoming more agitated. “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. Alright? Can I get some commitment for that? I would appreciate that.”
Though she didn’t specifically identify the $26 million, the company’s operating expenses rose by exactly that amount in its fiscal third quarter due to “voluntary and involuntary reductions in the company’s workforce and charges for the impairment of assets associated with the decision to cease operating fully as a stand-alone brand.”
MillerKnoll’s third-quarterly filing showed the furniture maker expects lower sales in the fourth quarter after posting a decline in orders and sales margins in the three months ending Mar. 4.
Owen added a former employer told her once that, “You can visit pity city, but you can’t live there.”
“So people, leave pity city. Let’s get it done,” she added.
“You have to be a psychopath to say this stuff to your employees when you are taking a massive bonus. Does she think they won’t find out?” said one Twitter user.
“Plenty going on here but one of many things that leapt out to me was that mere moments after she went with the “be kind to people” bit, she was yelling at workers,” another said.
The company said that the video clip had been taken out of context.
“Andi fiercely believes in this team and all we can accomplish together, and will not be dissuaded by a 90-second clip taken out of context and posted on social media,” a spokesman said in a statement.
Owen made $5 million last year. The company has yet to say how much she will make this year. The company this year has expensed $15.7 million in stock-based compensation.
have dropped 12% this year, compared to the 8% gain for the S&P 500