Business CEO apologizes after telling employees to 'leave Pity City'

CEO apologizes after telling employees to ‘leave Pity City’


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Andi Owen, the CEO and president of office furniture company MillerKnoll, told employees to leave “pity city” at a meeting in late March after being asked how to stay motivated during tough times, Vice first reported.

“I had an old boss who once said to me, ‘You can visit jammer town, but you can’t live there.’ So folks, get out of pity town. Let’s get it done,” Owen said in a video which is now circulating online.

Owen also told employees not to ask about bonuses, but to worry about getting the deal done.

Related: Google CEO warns employees about hiring delays and tells staff to be more ‘entrepreneurial’

“Get the goddamn $26 million,” she said. “Spend your time and effort thinking about the $26 million we need and not what you’re going to do if you don’t get a bonus. Okay? Can I get some commitment for that?”

Following the media attention, Owen apologized to staff on Tuesday, saying she understands her language may have come across as “insensitive”.

“What I had hoped would energize the team to take on a challenge we’ve encountered many times before it landed in a way I didn’t intend and I’m sorry for that,” Owen wrote by e-mail email to her staff. Shame.

“My appreciation for each of you is immense and I will continue to do everything I can to help us achieve our shared goals,” she added.

Over the past three years, MillerKnoll stock is down nearly 40% Tuesday afternoon. The company announced approx 160 permanent layoffs with the closure of one of its factories in Wisconsin earlier this month.

The furniture industry saw record low demand in 2021 and the manufacturing sector fell for the fourth straight month in February, according to Furniture today. While MillerKnoll doesn’t exclusively sell office furniture, it has been a focal point of the company from the start — which, given office closures during and after the pandemic, could contribute to the decline in sales.

While MillerKnoll’s fiscal year is not yet over and status bonuses (including for Owen) have yet to be announced, Owen received bonuses of $1.29 million in 2022 and $1.12 million in 2021, Vice reported.

Related: Honda overpaid employee bonuses – then asked for the extra cash back

Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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