Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics (22): Objects in Statistics May Appear Bigger Than They Are

From a news report some weeks ago:

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde Thursday voiced her support for France Telecom’s chief executive, who is coming under increased pressure from French unions and opposition politicians over a recent spate of suicides at the company.

Ms. Lagarde summoned France Telecom CEO Didier Lombard to a meeting after the telecommunications company confirmed earlier this week that one of its employees had committed suicide. It was the 24th suicide at the company in 18 months.

In a statement released after the meeting, Ms. Lagarde said she had “full confidence” that Mr. Lombard could get the company through “this difficult and painful moment.”

The French state, which owns a 27% stake in France Telecom, has been keeping a close eye on the company, following complaints by unions that a continuing restructuring plan at the company is putting workers under undue stress.

The suicide rate among the company’s 100,000 employees is in line with France’s national average. Still, unions say that the relocation of staff to different branches of the company around France has added pressure onto employees and their families.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for France’s opposition Socialist Party called for France Telecom’s top management to take responsibility for the suicides and step down. Several hundred France Telecom workers also took to the streets to protest against working conditions.

In the statement released after Thursday’s meeting, France’s Finance Ministry said Mr. Lombard had set up an emergency hotline aimed at providing help to depressed workers. The company has also increased the number of psychologists available to staffers, according to the statement. (source)

More on the problems caused by averages is here.

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