Foxconn CEO Sees Workers as Animals

Foxconn is a Taiwanese electronics company. They are also planning on building a $10 billion complex in Wisconsin that would supply between 3 and 13,000 new jobs. Sounds like a good deal, right? There’s just one small hitch in the plan: Foxconn’s CEO seems to be under the impression that the people who work for him are basically zoo animals (which, if you’ve ever been to a Packers game, isn’t too far from the truth…)

The Journal Sentinel reports: “(Foxconn parent company) Hon Hai has a workforce of over one million worldwide and as human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache,” Foxconn CEO Terry Gou was quoted saying in 2012 at a company party held at the Taipei Zoo.

Soon after making his comments five years ago, Gou had Chin Shih-chien, the director of the zoo, participate in Foxconn parent company’s annual review and spoke to his executives about how to manage animals based on their temperaments, according to Want China Times, a Taiwan-based news outlet that has since ceased publication.


“I am managing over one 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.

I grew up on a farm, so I’ve dealt with animals a lot. I know how to feed chickens, build fences, and tag cows. That means I qualify as CEO of an international electronics company, right?

In response to news reports, Foxconn at the time released a statement that said Gou did not mean to speak negatively about his employees but understood his comments could be misinterpreted.

Misinterpreted? No, impossible!

“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,” according to the statement posted on the technology website

“Mr. Gou’s comments were directed at all humans and not at any specific group.” 

All humans are animals, not just his employees! That makes it ok, right?

It’s just a coincidence that Foxconn has had so much trouble with employee morale that they’ve dealt with “mass suicide protests.” I’m sure that the people who work at zoos deal with that problem all the time, also! I’m sure that this won’t be a problem for any of the workers in warm, sunny Wisconsin.


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