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Liability And Punishment For Ceo's Ethical Considerations

1688 words - 7 pages

In today’s world, CEO’s of major corporations or organizations have tremendous pressure on them to meet expectations and succeed. They are responsible for making the toughest decisions that affect many people. CEO’s often struggle with decisions because personal successes and morals confront each other. Normative ethics are important for CEO’s because their actions have an effect on people’s lives. Recently, WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers was sentenced to jail for 25 years because a jury ruled that he was responsible for an 11 billion dollar accounting fraud. His actions caused his cooperation to go bankrupt, which was at the time the largest bankruptcy case in U.S. history (Lazarus, 2005). Ebbers claimed he did not know what was going on, and others were to blame because he merely delegated tasks. Many people lost their jobs, many lost all of their savings tied to WorldCom stocks, and millions of people were affected by the actions that he made. His decisions were strictly financial decisions and they appeared to be in his best interest only. The question then becomes, was Ebbers liable and did he deserve to go to jail? Some would say he made a business error and it ended up hurting his career, but jail was too harsh. Ebbers deserved to go to jail and deserved to be punished for his unethical decisions. Ebbers deserved to go to jail because he selfishly chose to exploit the rights, and ignore the consequences of the people he was going to affect. He had a duty to protect the contractual rights of his shareholders and partners. He intentionally deceived these people for selfish reasons and essentially stole from them. Ebbers actions illustrated he knew what was right and wrong and he knowingly made decisions that would hurt more people than help.As the Chief Executive Officer of a billion dollar company Ebbers did not make responsible moral decisions. When making moral decisions Ebbers never considered and never cared about the consequences of his actions. When he broke the law and fraudulently lied about the earning of WorldCom, he did so for selfish reasons and the consequences were catastrophic. Utilitarianism is a process of making a moral decision by looking at the consequences of that decision. “Utilitarianism would regard an action as good if the action yields value in form of pleasure to humans, and right if the action yields the greatest net value for the society” (Ersdal, 2008). The summary of utilitarianism by Ersdal illustrates how moral decisions can be thought out and evaluated before they are made. Ebbers is an educated, capable business man and knew how he could affect others. He evaluated the consequences of illegally lying about his company’s financials and he determined that millions of people suffering were worth his gain. Ebbers refused to make the decision for the greater good. Instead, he chose the decision that provided the least amount of happiness to the most amounts of people. A...

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