Skip to content

The only meaningful apology from the MillerKnoll CEO would be to give substantial bonuses to the same employees that were insulted

April 24, 2023

You probably have heard by now the infamous rant by Andi Owen, CEO and president of MillerKnoll, which was acquired by Herman Miller in 2021.

You can go to this video (1:08 into the video) and hear what Owen had to say, which was essentially shaming employees for complaining about not receiving bonuses from 2022. Here is some of what Owen said to her employees: 

“Don’t ask about, ‘What are we going to do if we don’t get a bonus?’ Get the damn $26 million,” Owen said, referring to an undisclosed internal metric. “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? Can I get some commitment for that?”

However, what was even more egregious than the CEO’s rant against employees was the fact that Andi Owen’s compensation package for the 2022 fiscal year approached $5 million. 

The backlash has been significant, with numerous news outlets reporting on the contemptuous comments from Owen, comments that were directed at workers. Here is one example of this story as reported on by VICE.

Last week the Holland Sentinel reported that MillerKnoll was also threatening to fire employees who pushed back against the CEO’s comments, particularly if those employees spoke with news reporters.

“We have a meeting at the beginning of every shift,” the employee wrote in a message Wednesday, April 19. “Last night the comments were brought up in the meeting and they said if anybody spoke out it wouldn’t be good for them and they could be terminated.”

A spokesperson with MillerKnoll denied this allegation. 

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Crain’s Grand Rapids – the newly created business press that has replaced both the Grand Rapids Business Journal and MiBiz – reported that the CEO and President of MillerKnoll had made a formal apology for her comments about workers going to “pity city.” 

The Crain’s Grand Rapids article, headlined, MillerKnoll CEO apologizes to staff following viral comments on employee bonuses, doesn’t really provide any details on the apology, nor does it quote Owen directly on her apology. I checked the MillerKnoll website and there was no formal apology listed, which makes me question whether or not it even happened.

More importantly, even if the MillerKnoll CEO made an apology, those are simply empty words when you consider that she received $3.5 million in stock awards and other compensation in 2022. The only meaningful response would be to give employees a just bonus for 2022. In fact, the best form of an apology would have been for And Owens to divide her $3.5 million bonus for 2022 amongst the employees. 

For working class people increasing their pay or providing substantial bonuses are the only meaningful thing a CEO can do, short of stepping down from their position and having the company be run by the workers. These kinds of apologies will not happen within a Capitalist system, not unless workers rise up and take what is owned to them. 

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: