| Air France – HR legal team
Air France – HR legal team
In 2004, Air France, the flag carrier airline of the country, famously underwent a high profile merger with Dutch airline KLM to produce the holding company Air France-KLM. Air France is, however, one of the largest airlines in Europe in its own right, with over 240 aircraft currently in its fleet and over 48,000 employees. Legal responsibilities for such a mammoth operation are therefore substantial, with general counsel Sophie Gelbert taking ultimate responsibility for the company’s legal security. Considering the intricacy of the industry, the legal team must contain experts that are knowledgeable in their fields and adaptable to unforeseen circumstances. Franck Raimbault, senior vice president HR legal, further explains the Air France legal team’s motivating principles and staff requirements: ‘All members of the team must have top-level legal expertise, a strong commitment, and an action- and solution-oriented mind-set’. Raimbault, as head of the twelve-person HR legal team, is placed in a key position, as employment matters have been a particularly salient issue for the company causing some high profile disagreements last year. On how to deal with these reputationally sensitive challenges, Raimbault believes that ‘the HR legal team must be able to propose creative solutions’, and points to the depth of talent available to the team as one of the main factors in their success. In particular, he points to: Marie-Lucie Dubois, who ‘is a brilliant lawyer when it comes to proceedings’; Virginie Lemaire, who is ‘a top expert in labour law’; and Marieke Mainguet, ‘whose administrative skills and excellent company knowledge are a constant source of support’. On top of this, Raimbault states that ‘the whole team has an excellent relationship with the CEO and his board of directors, and more generally with all the company senior managers’. This close working connection at the highest levels of the company allows the legal department to provide their input into mitigating legal risk before it develops into a major issue. Due to its high workload, the HR team has been involved in developing innovative technologies in order to help deal with labour litigation matters and assist with general process improvements. ‘The lawyers have designed new software with the IT team’, Raimbault says, ‘targeting a zero paper working environment and automation of some administrative tasks in order to be more available for high value added legal activities. The legal team is also working on a conventional mediation system between Air France and its employees. The purpose is to avoid litigation or deal with it faster when it arises’.