Foxconn head compares company workers to animals

In a possible case of, "Choose your words wisely," the head of the parent company of Foxconn reportedly compared the workers at the company to animals. According to a report at Want China Times, Terry Gou, the chairman of Foxconn's parent company Hon Hai, said at a recent year-end meeting, "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."

As if to further the comparison, Gou also invited the director of the Taipei Zoo to give a lecture to the executives assembled at the year end meeting on how to manage animals.

This kind of bad publicity is just the latest for Hon Hai in general and for Foxconn in particular. It's been known for a long time that working conditions at the Foxconn plants, which manufacture parts and devices for a large number of Western electronic and tech companies, are very poor. To highlight this, the Foxconn worker situation became the subject of a Daily Show parody.

In 2010, a number of workers at a Foxconn plant in China committed suicide at the work place. Earlier this month, Foxconn and Microsoft said a worker dispute at a plant where Xbox 360 consoles were being made was resolved, after some workers at that plant reportedly threatened to commit suicide.

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23 Comments

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Considering that almost every major electronics manufacturer in the world uses foxconn components (I've worked in alot of electronics manufacturing and repair and Foxconn parts are massively represented) this probably doesnt belong in "microsoft news" but what do I know. I signed up here pretty much just to post this.

No one should be classified as an animal (even though we are mammals). Human beings are far more intelligent than any other animal on this planet (even though we questions this to some people in this world). This guy sees his employees as herds of cattle. I think this guy should be the chairman of a cattle farm instead of a production factory.

When you treat your staff like an infinitely renewable resource, it's easy to see how this mentality comes about.

Would it have been better if he picked another animal to describe them? Are they worse than herding cats?

I'm not sure what the big deal is. Most executives do not have the time to get to know each of their operational staff on a personal level. It's the personal interaction which turns humans into people and in turn into friends, loved ones, etc.

I would feel far worse about the company I work for if the upper echelons thought of me as a person, and still treated me like crap.

neufuse said,
last time I checked we are animals, now did he mean it in the civilized vs uncivilized sense?

Unless he is some sort of scientist and making a speech about biology and such, there is no reason to call those who work for you, those who make it possible to live the life you have, who are literally breaking their backs and giving their lives for your company, animals.
While we are all animals, you don't simple call another an animal without it being an insult, unless it is like 2 bro's lol.

M_Lyons10 said,
Wow. This company is just insane.

Yup. absolutely nuts..the sky is pink and water orange in Foxconn's reality...THEY'RE CRAZY!!!!!!!

/sarcasm

Guess we should inform our biology teachers that humans are no longer mammals.

On a serious note though, while it was a poor choice for an analogy to make publicly, he is right. None of us have managed a million people but I can imagine how attempting to manage that many people would be just as chaotic. It isn't hard for anyone to manage a couple dozen people and keep them all happy. You can easily consider the happiness of each individual and attempt to make choices that favor all of them.(Not saying everyone does) Managing a million people requires a different way of looking at the issue. You can no longer look at each individual, but have to consider the greater good for the people. If you have to screw over 100 people to keep the other 999,900 happy, its the logical choice in business to make. If you put a human face on each person, it is much harder to screw over those 100(assuming you have an form of compassion).

Don't mistake what I am saying as a defense and justification for all the things that Foxconn does wrong to its employees. Just don't act like what he is saying is somehow unique to his organization.

ILikeTobacco said,
Guess we should inform our biology teachers that humans are no longer mammals.

On a serious note though, while it was a poor choice for an analogy to make publicly, he is right. None of us have managed a million people but I can imagine how attempting to manage that many people would be just as chaotic. It isn't hard for anyone to manage a couple dozen people and keep them all happy. You can easily consider the happiness of each individual and attempt to make choices that favor all of them.(Not saying everyone does) Managing a million people requires a different way of looking at the issue. You can no longer look at each individual, but have to consider the greater good for the people. If you have to screw over 100 people to keep the other 999,900 happy, its the logical choice in business to make. If you put a human face on each person, it is much harder to screw over those 100(assuming you have an form of compassion).

Don't mistake what I am saying as a defense and justification for all the things that Foxconn does wrong to its employees. Just don't act like what he is saying is somehow unique to his organization.

The thing is, he doesn't manage that many. He has that many workers, but he has others who manage them, and he manages those managers. If he is really managing that many, he should look into other business models that work effectively by having a division of power throughout the ranks.

shakey said,

The thing is, he doesn't manage that many. He has that many workers, but he has others who manage them, and he manages those managers. If he is really managing that many, he should look into other business models that work effectively by having a division of power throughout the ranks.

Agreed. This is not about being overwhelmed by the demands of management, this is about an utter lack of any sort of caring for their employees...

shakey said,

The thing is, he doesn't manage that many. He has that many workers, but he has others who manage them, and he manages those managers. If he is really managing that many, he should look into other business models that work effectively by having a division of power throughout the ranks.


I agree but it still means decisions he makes will effect people all the way down. At some point in a business that large, you will end up in a situation where you do what is best for the business or what is best for a few people on the bottom of the totem pole. Those two things are not always the same thing unfortunately. But as many would agree, Foxconn takes this to a new level.

markizvonschnitzel said,

What?
Did you have biology at school at all?

I am not sure if you are trolling or what. All humans are mammals. All mammals are animals. Therefore, all humans are animals. That is all part of something you learn about in biology which is known as scientific classification in biology, or Biological classification.

This article is about people being upset about being compared to animals, even though they are in fact animals.

ILikeTobacco said,

I am not sure if you are trolling or what. All humans are mammals. All mammals are animals. Therefore, all humans are animals. That is all part of something you learn about in biology which is known as scientific classification in biology, or Biological classification.

This article is about people being upset about being compared to animals, even though they are in fact animals.

That was what he was referring to. The original post stated that humans were no longer mammals and that we should notify our biology teachers about this. The original post got it wrong and didn't read the article correctly.

jesseinsf said,
That was what he was referring to. The original post stated that humans were no longer mammals and that we should notify our biology teachers about this. The original post got it wrong and didn't read the article correctly.

You are even more dense than markizvonschnitzel, or a better troll.
The pair of you need to sit down and brush up on your English comprehension.

One hint, just to get you started: Not everything that is said should be taken at face value.