In June of 2003, Martha Stewart was indicted on several criminal and civil counts from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) . Without consideration of the verdict, the question remains; Did Martha Stewart, as CEO, act responsibly? Even though she was found guilty on all four counts against her, she could still be considered to have acted ethically. To determine the responsibility and ethics of her actions, the specifics of the case will be applied to a process to determine both the utility and the consequences of her actions. What was the affect of her actions (utility), what were the rights and duties involved (deontology), and ultimately, a decision as to were here actions ethical?
Who did Martha Stewart’s actions hurt? Who did they help? Central to theses questions of utility are the specifics of her actions and the circumstances surrounding them. As previously stated, Martha Stewart was found guilty on several criminal charges. How did she get there? What took place? Enron. Tyco. WorldCom. These companies created an environment of public mistrust of big corporations. Lives were destroyed; life savings depleted, and at the end, seemingly light punishments, if any were given to responsible parties. There was no tolerance for continued corporate impropriety. Martha Stewart sold almost 4000 (exactly 3,928) shares of her personally owned stock of ImClone in December 2001. The perception of wrong-doing came about as it related to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) disapproval of an ImClone drug. A friend of Stewart, and ImClone executive, indicated to her that the FDA would not approve the drug. Martha Stewart subsequently sold her shares of the depreciating stock, avoiding a sizeable loss. Stewart maintained that there was a pre-existing agreement with her portfolio manager to sell the stock when its value fell to $60 dollars a share, and that the FDA decision and her actions were coincidental. So who benefited from her sell of stock?...
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