Philosophy / Work Ethics

Work Ethics

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Autor:  anton  16 November 2010
Tags:  Ethics
Words: 1460   |   Pages: 6
Views: 398

What is justice? I want to start the support of my decision examining the definition and meaning that has been ascribed to the term justice. For this paper purpose I will take the definition of justice as; proper ordering of things and persons within a society. Now I will try to analyze the rationale behind Bernard Ebbers actions while he was the CEO of WorldCom to prove that his business ethics were the last thing in his list of priorities and why he should go to jail for the rest of his life. The first thing I would like to point is the humans tend to cede to peer pressure especially when we feel cornered. As a high rank staff in any organization he had access to all types of information even some that was exclusive for his position. This information is also shared among other key personnel around the organization that could also influence the future of WorldCom. But the sole reason to have a leader in an organization is to do what’s right all the time and to lead others to do the same while taking in consideration the wellbeing of all parties involved. In other words why I just tried to illustrate was that even when sometimes leaders are put in situations where they feel cornered, the society still expecting an honorable conduct from them.

The first step I am going to take is to analyze his decisions using a utilitarian perspective. During my research I didn’t find any information about Mr. Ebbers private life but I will assume he spent the majority of his time at work just like any other CEO. Since the majority of the people he knew was involved in the dilemma of manipulating finance information. My conclusion is that he made the decisions based on the premises that they were going to maximize the happiness to a greater number of people over a long term. Let’s stop here and define honesty before continuing. Honesty is defined as the refraining from lying, cheating, or stealing. Now back to Mr. Ebbers. Mr. Ebbers knew the condition of the company finances because otherwise he wouldn’t be able to justify the loans he requested to banks which place his honestly in question. The problem with lying is that to lie is to start a never ending chain, because if I lie now then I’ll have to lie later to cover the initial lie. Based on this, we can say that Mr. Ebbers was an egoist utilitarian. He was an egoist because his world was composed only by the people surrounding him and utilitarian because he protected only his inner circle interests. One of the main goals of a CEO is to cut down in expenses and improve the overall operating policy. This was also ignored by Mr. Ebbers because the acquisition of other companies developed the need for an integration plan. This integration plan was required to avoid the redundancy and underutilization of systems within the company, he never paid attention to this problem. This also demonstrated that his decision had no business ethics. One of his expressions when he left the CEO position was that the current financial crisis WorldCom was going trough was going to pass. For some reason people try to alleviate their guilty thinking that time heals all wounds while thinking about the people that got hurt in the process and themselves.

Let’s analyze his decisions from the Consequentialism point of view. When he was making the decision of buying all the telecommunications companies he acquired while manipulation WorldCom finances. He didn’t think about the consequences such actions would have to the stockholders, ordinary workers and overall market. He was just thinking about his lucrative consequences. Sadly in this society everything revolves about money. Also it is interesting to know that crimes like these which mostly of us refer to as White Collar Crimes are treated in a different way. What I mean with this is when they are prosecuted by the same legal system; it is interesting to know that they go to special penitentiaries that have special privileges. Such premise can lead us to this question; does real justice exist out there? Or we are just playing the game that whomever has the best lawyer wins?

Now let’s analyze his decisions from a deontology perspective. The Civil Rights ACT of 1964 Sec. 201 states: All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin or sex. This is something he failed to meet since he assumed the CEO position. First he manipulated financial data or was involved in it to give a misleading image of the company financial status. This caused investors to invest money that was going to produce no returns on investments. Also considering that some people use their homes as an investment it may have cause them to loose their homes. But Mr. Ebber never thought about them because his sole purpose was to get the maximum of his and his partner’s investments.

Lastly I would like to provide more examples about other financial scandals. I picked ENRON as my first example starting with a brief explanation of the case provided by BBC News. In just 15 years, Enron grew from nowhere to be America's seventh largest company, employing 21,000 staff in more than 40 countries. But the firm's success turned out to have involved an elaborate scam.

Enron lied about its profits and stands accused of a range of shady dealings, including concealing debts so they didn't show up in the company's accounts. As the depth of the deception unfolded, investors and creditors retreated, forcing the firm into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2001. A lot of time has passed after a criminal inquiry was announced and the guilty parties have still not been brought to justice. Impressively there are a lot of similarities in these two corporate scandals.

First they both of them needed to find an honest person that can understand the financial system the company used. Finding such person is a hard task because of fear of prosecution and civil lawsuits the witness will be susceptible to. Also these types of investigation are very time consuming because the economic crimes experts go over paper trails – memos, Letter, e-mails and bank statements among others. But what is really interesting about this case is that Kenneth Lee "Ken" Lay and Mr. Jeff Skilling both ENRON’S former CEOs were also pleading ignorance to the financial scam the corporation had while they were in charge. Also the chief financial officer Mr. Andrew Fastow was pleading ignorance. All we can see here using an Ethics magnifier is a lack of honesty and a big chuck of egoism. None of them had Deontological Ethics because other wise they wouldn’t done what they did.

My last corporate scandal which shows clearly another lack of business ethics is the Walgreen scandal. In this case Walgreens was accused of switching the dosage forms on three medications commonly prescribed for Medicaid patients without doctor approvals in order to boost profits. This resulted in Medicaid programs nationwide paying much more for the medications than they normally would have. This case was originally filed in Chicago in 2003. And now my question is; how many time has this happened before and we didn’t catch it. To finish the story, Walgreen Co. agreed to comply with state and federal laws on the matter, plus pay $35 million to the federal government, 42 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Finally I will conclude this study restating that Mr. Ebbers should spent the rest of his life in prison, and not in a special white collar prison but a real prison, because he never used his Ethics while in charge of WorldCom. We need to send a message out there as a nation to all small and big corporations. We need to make clear that dishonesty and lack of Ethics will not be tolerated here. I will leave you with this interesting quote to remember from Linda Davies:

"Bankers who hire money hungry geniuses should not always express surprise and amazement when some of them turn around with brilliant, creative, and illegal means of making money."

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