Five years ago, Foxconn’s Chief Terry Gou compared his employees to animals, while he planned bringing thousands of jobs to Wisconsin.
“Hon Hai (Foxconn parent company) has a workforce of over 1 million worldwide and as human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache,” Gou had said in 2012 at a company party which was held at the Taipei Zoo.
The company announced a plan then to build a $10 billion, 20 million-square-foot complex in Wisconsin. The company projected to employ 3,000 people initially but said it would ultimately hire some 13,000 people.
He introduced the director of the zoo, Chin Shih-chien, to the company’s annual review and told his senior managers how to manage animals based on their temperaments.
"I am managing over 1 million animals every day and it's such a headache. But our zoo chief knows that he can put tigers and lions together, but not tigers and chickens together. So I want to learn from him," Gou said at the company party at the zoo, according to a translation of his comments shown on FTV, a cable news station in Taiwan.
His comments met with backlash and negative connotations.
Foxconn issued a statement defending Gou’s narrative.
“In an effort to encourage his management team to learn from all aspects of life, Mr. Gou did say that, since all humans are members of the animal kingdom, it might be possible to learn from Mr. Chin’s experience as his team looks for lessons that can be applied to business," said the statement posted on the technology website TechCrunch.com.
“Mr. Gou’s comments were directed at all humans and not at any specific group,” it added.
Though some people, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, believed his comments were taken out of context, as he made them jokingly, while introducing Chin on stage, asking him how he manages animals.
But for many, these comments were offensive, especially as Foxconn is the company whose employees have reportedly jumped off the factory’s building, committing suicide, owing to harsh working conditions, forced overtime and unrealistic productions requirements.
Just recently Walker and Foxconn announced plans to build a factory in the United States to produce LCD screens. President Donald Trump lauded these efforts, because for him, this move will bring back jobs to the country.
However, given the previous suicide rates of employees and Guo’s comments about laborers, people are skeptical of these incentives.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters, Bobby Yip/File Photo