Samsung has responded to serious allegations of racism leveled against David Suh, a Korean national who is the head of Samsung in Nigeria.
Elihle Mnguni, Group PR Lead for Samsung Africa, sent two emails to TODAY NEWS AFRICA, USA, first seeking “clarifications” over the multiple allegations of racism and high handedness against Mr Suh, and then outrightly denying all the allegations without investigating them.
“Dear Mr Ateba, Contrary to your article, we would like to assure you that Samsung ascribes to its founder’s philosophies, as is evidenced by our ethical principles, Great Work Place environment and CSR initiatives in Africa,” Mnguni said.
Mnguni said Samsung did not have enough information to “adequately respond” to the serious allegations leveled against Suh by multiple Nigerian employees.
The company urged TODAY NEWS AFRICA, USA, to “furnish us with adequate information and/or questions that will enable us to attend to this matter with the seriousness it deserves”
Multiple staffers narrated how from the very first day when he was deployed to Nigeria about five months ago to oversee Samsung Electronics’ operations in Africa’s most populous nation, Korean National David Suh began to dismantle virtually everything that had made the Korean multinational conglomerate founded by Lee Byung-chul in 1938 a huge African success.
When Lee Byung-chul founded Samsung in 1938, it was a trading company headquartered in Samsung Town, Seoul. However, it was because of its ethical practices and great work environment philosophy that Sansung thrived, diversified into many areas, including food processing, textiles, insurance, securities, and retail, before entering the electronics industry in the late 1960s and the construction and shipbuilding industries in the mid-1970s, areas that would drive its subsequent growth.
“Perhaps the greatest happiness in the world comes from realizing one’s purpose in life. I have been fortunate enough to dedicate my entire life to business and resolutely dedicate my efforts to patriotic entrepreneurial endeavors,” Lee Byung-chul said in his “My Managerial Philosophy” in November 1976.
Even after Samsung was separated into four business groups – Samsung Group, Shinsegae Group, CJ Group and Hansol Group, following Lee’s death in 1987, the company continued to apply the same work environment principles, which allowed Samsung to increasingly globalize its activities and electronics in the 1990s, particularly its mobile phones and semiconductors.
In 2017, Samsung had the 6th highest global brand value.
But these principles and great work environment ethics are being eroded in Nigeria and staff are warning that the five-month reign of David Suh if not stopped now may completely bring the company to its knees.
Mr Suh who was unable to comment for the report is accused of overseeing a hostile work environment and racism, two accusations that have pushed several staff to storm out of the company.
Suh is also accused of intimidating staff and telling many to their faces that he does not like them.
Workers who spoke with TODAY NEWS AFRICA, USA, asked to remain anonymous for fear of being discriminated against by Suh.
The workers said when Suh assumed duty in Nigeria some five months ago, he began to immediately exhibit what many saw as a great source of concern but they decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. However, as time went on, things got even worse.
Some top members of staff left the company out of frustration, and as they put it in writing “on account of Suh’s unruly intimidating nature”.
Suh himself was alleged to have personally sacked several others.
In a particular department that used to be dominated by Nigerians, staff said Suh has fired almost all of them only because they are blacks.
Suh is said to be so arrogant and intimidating that he tells Nigerians to their faces that he doesn’t like them.
“Workers are said to be working under fear and psychological trauma that emanates from sack threat Suh regularly frightens them with, especially as it’s evident his threats are usually not empty,” they told TODAY NEWS AFRICA, USA.
They added that “dealers and distributors of the company are said not to have been spared of Suh’s arrogance and abusive nature as they are said to have tasted from his frivolous tongue. Some of the dealers and distributors reportedly walked out of a meeting he had with them in Abuja when he told he allegedly told them they could go if they would agree to his terms of operations”.
They said Suh has always been a liability to the Korean company as Nigeria is said not to be the first place he would throw the organization into a chaotic state.
While he superintended over the organization’s operations in Senegal, the workers on a particular occasion were said to have shut down operations to protest against high handedness, victimization and what was referred to as total disrespect of members of staff by the managing director.
This singular incident was said to have earned him a query from the head office in Korea and a recommendation that he undergoes training at Human Relations Management Institute.
He was alleged to have been taken out of the organization’s Senegal branch when the good he was doing to the company was nothing compared to his negative influence on the reputation of the organization.
He was said to have flouted a lot of labor rules in the country and got into trouble with the Labor union and Samsung was dragged to court.