Photo: Jordan Pouille
Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn has issued a statement clarifying recent remarks made by Foxconn CEO Terry Gou in which Gou referred to Foxconn’s employees as “one million animals.”These remarks came close on the heels of further revelations about the labour practices of Foxconn and other contract manufacturers that make products for many companies, including Apple.
The statement emphasises what we and other media outlets made clear, which was that Gou made the remarks while introducing a zookeeper to his senior managers at a party. In his introduction, Gou explained that the zookeeper might have some good advice for his senior managers because humans are, after all, animals and “to manage one million animals gives me a headache“:
There have been some media reports regarding a conversation that Foxconn Technology Group Chief Executive Officer, Terry Gou, had with the Director of the Taipei Zoo, Chin Shih-chien, at an employee event organised by Foxconn on January 15 in Taipei to benefit a range of charitable organisations through a contribution of USD1.4 million.
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. Mr. Gou’s comments were directed at all humans and not at any specific group.
While some reports on Mr. Gou’s comments in Mandarin were taken out of context and do not accurately reflect the full scope of that conversation, Mr. Gou does understand how these dsreports could be misinterpreted and seen as insensitive and he sincerely apologizes to anyone who might be offended by them. At no time did Mr. Gou seek to portray Foxconn employees in the negative context some media reports have suggested.
Foxconn’s employees will presumably appreciate the apology. But it might have been more meaningful had it come from Mr. Gou itself.