France Telecom's new CEO focuses on restoring worker happiness

Stephane Richard will have a lot on his plate when he officially settles into his new role as France Telecom's CEO in March.

At the top of Richard's to-do list will be the daunting task of restoring the faith of his employees, who he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal have gone through "trauma, suffering and much worse."

Originally Richard was supposed to take over the CEO duties in 2011, but the 32 employee suicides--a factor unions attribute to the former state owned service provider's cost cutting and employee redeployment measures--put pressure on the company's leadership to make a more immediate change. When the board meets later this month, they will approve Richard's appointment to CEO.

"It was necessary to make the change immediately...the crisis called for a coherent and strong reaction," said Richard.

After France Telecom's board of directors decided to split the CEO and Chairman duties between Didier Lombard and Richard, Lombard decided this week to finally resign from the CEO post amidst public pressure. Last week, Richard launched a campaign asking that Lombard step aside so he could get down to the business of addressing the company's issues. Lombard, however, will stay on as board chairman until next January.  

For more:
- Wall Street Journal has this article

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