MillerKnoll CEO faces backlash for telling employees not to ask about bonuses: 'Leave pity city'

MillerKnoll CEO Andi Owen is facing backlash after telling her employees to "leave pity city" after they raised concerns about getting bonuses. 

In a 75-minute Zoom call with employees last month, Owen said she wanted to address staff concerns on how to stay motivated if they wouldn't be getting a bonus "head on." 

In a portion of the call leaked on social media, Owen, who has led the company since 2018, told staff not to worry about the potential loss of a bonus during the tumultuous economic environment and to work hard anyway.

"Don’t ask about, ‘What are we going to do if we don’t get a bonus?’ Get the damn $26 million," Owen said during the Zoom call. "Spend your time and your effort thinking about the $26 million we need and not thinking about what are you going to do if we don’t get a bonus, all right?" she continued.

Owen told staff members that they should focus on the things they can control.

"None of us could have predicted COVID, none of us could have predicted supply chain [issues], none of us could have predicted 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," she continued.

Toward the end of the clip, Owen told staff: "I had an old boss who said to me one time, 'You can visit pity city, but you can't live there.' So, people, leave pity city. Let's get it done." 

One clip of the call, roughly one minute and 20 seconds long, went viral on Twitter and has already gained over 8 million views as of 10 a.m. Tuesday. 

A MillerKnoll spokesperson told FOX Business that said the short clip was pulled out of context from a 75-minute company meeting regarding business updates, product launches and campaigns.

"A 90-second clip from that internal meeting loses the context of the broader discussion," the spokesperson said. "Our CEO believes fiercely in the company and what we can do together to finish our financial year strong." 

Outraged social media users drew attention to the irony of her speech given Owen's base pay and performance-based bonus.

In the fiscal year ending May 28, 2022, Owen made more than $4.9 million in total compensation, which included a $1.29 million performance-based bonus, according to filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

The company told FOX Business that bonuses for this year haven't been decided for anyone at the company. 

"Our Bonuses are set by the company’s full year financial results, and that it's our fiscal year closes at the end of May," the spokesperson said. "No bonuses, for anyone at MillerKnoll, have been decided."

MillerKnoll, previously known as Herman Miller, designs and sells office and home furniture and considers itself the "world's largest and most influential collectives of modern design brands." Some of its brands include Herman Miller, Knoll and Design Within Reach.