Wednesday, December 9, 2015

PepsiCo: BVO in soft drinks(2014)

A photo describing BVO,
including health risks
An ethical controversy surrounding PepsiCo is their use of a chemical called BVO (brominated vegetable oil) in their soft drinks, which is the same chemical commonly used as a flame retardant. The reason BVO would be used in a soft drink is to help prolong the shelf life of the product by preventing the colors and flavors added to soft drinks from breaking down while the product is still on the shelf. The problem with BVO is it is resulting in some consumers of the soft drinks developing memory loss, skin lesions, and nerve problems. Additionally, the use of BVO has already been banned in countries in Europe and Japan. After a petition written by a 15-year-old in 2012, PepsiCo announced in May of 2014 they would be removing BVO from all of their soft-drinks but as of now there is still BVO in some of their more citrus prevalent soft drinks such as Mountain Dew.

Stakeholders of this controversy include the owners and suppliers of BVO, but most importantly, the customers of Pepsi. The customers of Pepsi are directly affected by this case because they will be the ones experiencing the health risks if they are consuming a chemical that is associated with such risks. Additionally, the power of the customers is shown when Pepsi removed BVO from many of their products after a petition against the chemical gained over 100,000 signatures. The owners are stakeholders because if they cant produce a product that can allow their customers to trust them, their profits will be directly affected negatively. Lastly, now that BVO is known to be a chemical associated with health risks, those who supply the chemical to soft-drink companies will no longer be in business because if the companies care about their consumers, they will find another way to improve the shelf life of products without harming consumers.

Individualism is the practice of being self-reliant or putting your own goals first in order to gain success in life. In business, the practice of individualism is to focus solely on maximizing company profits for the stakeholders. Friedman, a Nobel Prize economist feels that as long as a company fits within legal boundaries their only goal should be to maximize company profits. Under this theory, PepsiCo is behaving ethically because the amount of BVO being used falls under the legal limits allowed in products set by the FDA. Additionally, the use of BVO allows them to increase profits by improving shelf life.
PepsiCo logo and a couple of their signature item logos beneath

Utilitarianism is working to find happiness in yourself and others for the purpose of meeting intrinsic values. The goal of utilitarianism is to convey happiness and pleasure to anyone who can feel it. Under this theory, PepsiCo is not behaving ethically. While they are trying to keep costs down, which makes people happy, they are not caring for their consumers, which makes people unhappy. When consumers realize the negative health risks associated with a chemical like this, it is not going to make consumers happy. This fails to follow the theory of utilitarianism, which makes PepsiCo’s use of the chemical unethical.


PepsiCo’s practices can be evaluated using the theory of Kantianism to see if it is ethical. Kantianism is acting rationally and being motivated by good will by respecting people. is  What this means is when making decisions, you should consider others and make sure that your decision will not impact others negatively. When evaluated with PepsiCo’s practices, this also makes PepsiCo’s practices unethical. Pepsi is using a chemical that is banned in many countries due to health risks, by keeping it in their products in countries where it is not allowed Pepsi is not acting rationally. Pepsi is not respecting people or being motivated by good will if they are still trying to use a product that is shown to be unhealthy to help increase profits. Additionally, it is not rational to use a chemical when many people know it is unhealthy because it builds mistrust among consumers toward the company.
BVO shown on the back of a Mountain Dew bottle in the ingredients;
Mountain Dew is a very popular soda beverage

Personally, what I think represents company’s ethical practices the most is how well it can conform to the virtue theory. The virtue theory is the practice of using characteristics that help to allow things to function without problems. The virtue theory is what helps things get done the way we intend them to and also operate the same way. Additionally, virtues should be followed to ensure this. These virtues are, courage, honesty, self-control, and justice. PepsiCo is not using these virtues in their decision to use BVO in soft drinks. PepsiCo could have been a front-runner in consumer awareness and used more responsible ingredients, which would increase profits through consumer trust. By using the chemical Pepsi is not being exemplifying courage, honesty, self-control, or justice because they are aware of the problem but aren’t fixing it because it helps them profit.

A lot could have been done to prevent this situation from happening or even reacting to it after the controversy happened. PepsiCo should look at their company on an international level and look into ingredients that might be banned in some countries. If ingredients are banned such as BVO in countries due to health risks, PepsiCo should be responsible and eliminate those ingredients and replace them with safer options. Additionally, if PepsiCo makes a statement that they will remove the chemical from all products, they must keep their word. Pepsi over a yar ago said they would remove the chemical that to this day is yet to be removed. This is unacceptable and if they want to build a trust among their consumers they must earn it and provide products without ingredients that should be removed due to health reasons.

Coupland, John. "Why Would You Put Brominated Vegetable Oil in Soda?" Popular Science. Popular Science, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2015.
Dr. Mercola. "Coca-Cola and PepsiCo Agreed to Remove Brominated Vegetable Oil." N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2015.
O'Brien, Robyn. "Mountain Dew Ingredient Banned in 100 Countries." Robyn O'Brien. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
PepsiCo. "Official Site for PepsiCo Beverage Information | Product." Official Site for PepsiCo Beverage Information | Product. PepsiCo, 15 Oct. 2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.
"Who We Are." Brands Explore. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2015.
Salazar, Healther. Power Point Lectures. 2015.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Comcast: Merges with TWC (2014)

Case Study
In February of 2014, Comcast cable company announced that they would be attempting to obtain Time Warner cable company through a deal that would give Comcast 100% ownership of time warner. The idea of the merger on the surface may seem like a good idea to some, but the underlying methods of the way they went about attempting to push the deal through and the consequences that could come from this merger going through are significant enough to possibly affect the entire world.
Comcast is one of the largest cable providers in the world as well as one of the largest broadband providers before the addition of Time Warner, if Time Warner was to become under the control of Comcast, then Comcast then instantly becomes one of the biggest companies in the world period, and a company that provides one of the most widely used products and services in the modern world, cable and internet. 
In the months following Comcast's announcement of buying Time Warner, they hired 7 new lobbying firms which were an attempt to push the merger through all the sides of congress or parties that could potentially slow the process down or even stop it from going through (Comcast's). The hiring of these lobbyists to push this through shows that Comcast is undoubtedly aware of the implications to the customers being anything but positive but this is a way for them to make money so they clearly do not care. 
Comcast's attempted merger would have combined the nations number 1 and 2 cable and broadband service providers, creating a massive gap in the next companies on the list. Although not technically a monopoly, this still would have basically created a company that can control the market through their shear size and the necessity that there product had in the world. All in all, Comcast was unethical in 2 different aspects; the hiring of the lobbyists to push this through and the intentions to create basically a monopoly on the industry that they are in. 

Time Warner Cable logo
It is clear that the decision makers in this case were the higher ups of Comcast. They are the only ones that did not feel a merger between these two companies would have resulted in decreased competition within the industry and they it would benefit everyone (Forbes). The stakeholders of this situation were the people that subscribe to both Comcast and Time Warner Cable. The people that subscribe to these cable companies would then be all brought under one roof and possibly be forced to pay more than they should be with little other option if they want to keep their cable and internet services.

According to Friedman’s idea of business ethics, known as individualism, “the only goal of business is to profit, so the only obligation that the business person has is to maximize the profit for the owner or the stockholders” (Salazar PPT). Basically, individualism is the theory that the only obligation of a business it to make as much money as possible without breaking the law.
When examining this situation of Comcast through Friedman’s beliefs, they did absolutely nothing wrong with the way that they handled this situation. In going through with this merger, it was not illegal for Comcast to hire lobbyists to help push through the deal that would lead to these two companies coming together. Quite the contrary actually; this theory would state that Comcast was doing the right thing by hiring these lobbyists because it would lead to the expansion of the company and would add thousands of more customers to their service list. In doing this, Comcast would have exponentially increased their profits. 

Utilitarianism is a form of ethics that promotes the greater good more than anything else. This theory implies that “happiness and pleasure are the only things of intrinsic value” (Salazar PPT). Simply put, those that believe in utilitarian ethics believe that profit is not the main goal, but providing a good service and creating happiness for the consumer is the main goal.
When analyzing the Comcast situation as a utilitarian would, it can be said that they handled the case terribly and the merger should never have been a thought to the company. By using the lobbyists to push this merger through, Comcast was essentially bribing their way through the process without care for what the end result would mean for the customers of both them and Time Warner, even though it would lead to greater profits for Comcast. Had the merger gone through, Comcast would have been in nearly complete control of all cable and broadband in the entire United States, this means that they could have basically charged whatever they want for their services and controlled the way people have to go about some things. This in no way promotes the utilitarian idea of “happiness and pleasure are the only things of intrinsic value”. This actually does just the opposite and only promotes anger and basically taking away a person’s freedom of choice.

Immanuel Kant,
German Philosopher
The basic principles of Kantianism are to (1) act rationally - don’t act inconsistently in your own actions or consider yourself exempt from rules, (2) allow and help people to make rational decisions, (3) respect people, their autonomy, and individual needs and differences, and (4) be motivated by Good Will, seeking to do what is right because it is right (Salazar PPT). This theory of business ethics was developed by Immanuel Kant and is basically aimed at keeping the customer happy and remaining selfless.
In an analysis of this case through Kantian methods, Comcast also falls well short of expectations. In the companies use of lobbyists to push this merger forward, they are promoting the idea that they will be basically the only cable and broadband provider even though the general public thought that it was a bad idea because they knew it would lead to Comcast having too much power. Morally this deal is just wrong because it would force people to pay whatever Comcast wanted in order to have their cable and internet services kept.  

Virtue Theory
Virtue theory is an approach to ethics that has more emphasis on a persons character rather than rules about the acts themselves or their consequences (Virtue). Basically, virtue theory is applied when the decision maker assesses a situation based on their internal values and motives rather than carrying about what others think or the possible consequences. When applied to the Comcast case, virtue theory was not at all implemented.
Virtues are something that give off good motivation and make someone a better person. The fault of this case cannot be placed on one specific individual, therefore the entire company can be to blame for this case of the use of lobbyists to push the merger through. There use again shows that Comcast is only in the business to maximize their own profit and not for the improvement of the experience their customers have. Although they were operating with the law, the idea of doing this is morally wrong and therefore goes against virtue theory to the dot. The consequences that could have happened to the customers were not considered when pushing this merger through and nobody cared about how it would affect them in the long run. 

Justified Ethics Evaluation
Brian L. Roberts, CEO of Comcast cable company
In my opinion, in spite of the previous ethical theories, Comcast was in the wrong about trying to merge with Time Warner and the fact that were attempting to get it through the government with the use of lobbyists is simply wrong on many different levels. The convergence of these two companies would have made Comcast the single largest cable provider in the United States and would have given them almost no competition in the business. We have a system of checks and balances in the United States that is designed to not allow this to happen. We need Competition in order to allow for people to have some option and to not get ripped off by a company that has all of the power.
In Comcasts use of lobbyists to push this through, they have blatant disregard for this fact and they intentionally ignore it to make this push through Congress, the FCC and the Judicial system. The lobbyists were brought in solely to make this go through all these plants and attempt to sway the members of these branches in order to push this merger through. In the end, this merger would have only yielded to problems across the board. People that had subscriptions to either cable company would be in outrage over the mere possibility of increased rates that would certainly come as part of this merger.
Comcasts questionable tactics used in an attempt to push this merger is a clear violation of not only most of the business ethics theories, but also by simple moral standards and the urge to provide the best service possible. Being a customer of Comcast I was very disappointed in hearing this news and am disappointed as customer that Comcast would try such things in order to maximize their own profit.         

"Comcast Business History." Comcast Business History. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2015.
"Comcast’s Army of Lobbyists Continues to Raise Ethical Concerns." Washington Free Beacon. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2015.
Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2015.
"Timeclock History for Comcast and Time Warner Cable." Timeclock History for Comcast and Time Warner Cable. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2015.
"Virtue Ethics - By Branch / Doctrine - The Basics of Philosophy." Virtue Ethics - By Branch / Doctrine - The Basics of Philosophy. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2015.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Microsoft CEO's Controversial Comments about Women's Pay (2014)

Microsoft company logo
In 2014, Satya Nadella took over the position of CEO of Microsoft from Steve Ballmer. In early October, 2014, Microsoft published its diversity statistics and launched a diversity inclusion website. Not more than a few weeks later Satya Nadella was being interviewed by Maria Klawe, Harvey Mudd College President and Microsoft board member, at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference. Klawe asked Nadella what advice he would give to women who are not comfortable asking for raises. His response was that women should not explicitly ask for raises, they should rely on good karma to bring them their raises.
After hearing the controversial comment made by Nadella, one graduate student, Amrita Mazumdar, said "Satya Nadella’s comments about wages are very reflective of the tech industry’s self-perception as a ‘meritocracy’" (Soper). The idea of basing progress on talent and ability is not such a bad idea, however, Nadella is saying that even though a woman might have exceptional talent and ability, she should not make an effort to confront an executive about a raise.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Micrsoft who
commented on women asking for raises

There are many stakeholders affected by this controversy. One group of stakeholders are the female employees of Microsoft and other companies in the technology industry. They are at a disadvantage if they are not treated as equals with men. They become less confident and Nadella’s remarks emphasize the reasons women are not confident in the tech industry. The Microsoft Company is also a stakeholder. If women chose not to work at Microsoft because of discrimination, then the company is losing a lot of talent and skill. This is because having a more diverse team will enhance the problem-solving and innovation departments within the company. Another stakeholder is the customers. Studies show that more women than men are purchasing technology and using websites. Customers may be influenced to not buy Microsoft products because of discrimination against women. Lastly, the stockholders are also stakeholders. However, they would benefit from this controversy because if fewer women are receiving raises, or women are receiving raises less frequently than men, then the stockholders will take home more money.

An individualistic view of ethics says that there is only on responsibility of business. That responsibility is use its resources to maximize profit, without deception or fraud. An individualist would say that this controversy is ethical. Satya Nadella is not breaking any laws by advising women not to ask for raises. He is simply stating his opinion. The result of the company not giving out raises very frequently will maximize profits. However, if Satya Nadella were to be found discriminating against women in his company, this case would be unethical. It is not ethical to maximize profits if you are breaking the law to do so.

Utilitarianism is the theory that “Happiness must be understood in terms of pleasure and the absence of pain; unhappiness is understood as pain, or the deprivation of pleasure” (DesJardins, 30). Based on this theory this case is not ethical. Satya Nadella was not thinking about the happiness of his employees when he said they should not ask for raises. This theory also states, “There should be no difference, morally-speaking, between my happiness and yours,” (Salazar, slide 6). Nadella showed that there is a difference between his happiness and the happiness of his employees. He would not have kept them from asking for raises if he felt there was no difference between each of their happiness.
A group of Microsoft workers, a photo
promoting diversity in the workplace

The theory of Kantianism has four main principles. Those principles are to act rationally, allow and help people make rational decisions, respect people and their individual needs and differences, and be motivated by good will. Based on this ethical theory, this case is not ethical. It was not a rational decision for Satya Nadella to tell women not to ask for raises. Nadella would not expect to be told that he needed to wait for fate to bring him his raises, so it is not rational for him to expect that of his employees. In Kantianism, each person has a fundamental duty to treat others with respect and as equals. Satya Nadella is not treating his female employees as equals to his male employees, therefore he is being unethical.

Virtue Theory
The Virtue Theory of ethics is composed of four business virtues. Those virtues are courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. These are the character traits that will lead us to a life of happiness. Satya Nadella was not acting ethically based off of this theory. Satya Nadella lacked the courage to stand up for equal rights for the women in the tech industry. This also does not show much honesty on Nadella's part. The fact that they are expected not to ask for raises should be discussed before an employee is hired. Nadella also did not restrain himself from allowing his own opinion to make him biased and he did not act with fairness toward the women in the tech industry.

Justified Ethical Evaluation
Although I have no experience in the technology industry, I believe that Satya Nadella's comments were unethical for any type of work environment. In an age where gender equality is extremely important, it was ignorant for Satya Nadella to tell women that they should not be asking their companies for a raise. It is unfair to say women should not be asking for raises, but there are no restrictions for men. Women could easily accomplish more than their male co-workers and they should be appropriately recognized for it just as their male co-workers would be. It is important to recognize female accomplishments in an industry that has a male majority workforce. Satya Nadella should be setting an example for other companies in the tech industry and encouraging women to speak up when they have succeeded at something. This will result in a work environment that allows everyone to feel equal.

"About Microsoft." About Microsoft. Microsoft Corporation, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.

"Anti-discrimination Laws." United States Department of Labor. U.S. Department of Labor, Aug. 1999. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.

"Come as You Are. Do What You Love." The Business of Inclusion. Microsoft Corporation, n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.

Foley, Mary Jo. "Microsoft Releases Diversity Stats, Says 'much Work' Still to Be Done - CNET." CNET. N.p., 3 Oct. 2014. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.

"Grace Hopper | About." Grace Hopper. Anita Borg Institute, n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.

Guynn, Jessica. "Diversity Takes Center Stage at Microsoft Annual Meeting." USA Today. N.p., 3 Dec. 2014. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Medtronic’s "Infuse" Infuse “Doctors” Medical Journal (2011)

Medtronic Logo

The controversy of this case comes from the basics of ethics. the employee used individualism over all other ethics. Medtronic employees used their power and money to influence doctors and edits to falsify documentation and article about Infuse. Medtronic over a fifteen year spam (1997-2012) paid for false documentation. It was known by many what side effects were with Infuse and the known risk of it. Like when Rick Trehame of Medtronic emailed Steve Glassman to change writing from "the high complication rate is alarming and warrants intense scrutiny" to "that the occurrence adverse events in these patients was higher than expected and warrants further investigation." There was then an email from Doctor Martin Yahiro when he devised a plan to make sure that people could not provide information that Infused was the cause and it was the cervical surgery at fault. There was no shortage of stories like these

Company Background
In 2011 The Committee on Finance United States Senate released an investigation into the off label use of Medtronic’s Infuse. This included findings that Medtronic’s paid doctors to falsify articles published in medical journals. This incorporated drafting, editing, and shaping articles. Medtronic’s employees were accused of leaving out adverse effects of Infuse in a 2005 “Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery” article. Dr. Hal Mathew’s and other doctors remarks were prepared by Medtronics and submitted to the FDA. Medtronic’s reportedly paid out $210 million dollars from 1996-2010 to this work.

May-1997 Original study
July-2002 FDA Approval for bone graft
March-2007 Approval for dental surgery
July-2008 FDA issues public health notification
2009- First lawsuit
2011- First report by Spine journal of cover up
May 2015- Settlement of $22 million dollars with a $140 million dollar settlement pending

Medtronic’s employees that where involved with editing and doctoring documentations for such articles and submittals were mainly the Marketing Team. This Marketing Team consisted of highly educated employees with advanced degrees. Their primary job was to anticipate the market demands for this product. Negative press out there about this product would drive demand down. Also involved was Dr. Julie Bearcroft, Director of Technology Management in Medtronic’s Biologics Marketing Department. Also reported of the $900 million dollars in sales, 85% of it came from “off label use”. There were also thirteen doctors and authors that were paid by Medtronic to edit and withhold findings. All thirteen of these doctors and authors received royalties as well as kick backs. They had a vested interest in the success of this product.

There are a couple of different philosophers on Individualism but the main premise is profit for the stakeholders comes first. Medtronic’s employees have an obligation to Medtronic by marketing and providing customers and doctors literature about their product in order to increase sales and profitability. They could have done this by taking out ads, getting medical endorsements, or by publishing articles. They do not have the right to hurt or miss lead people for their own gains. They miss lead the public by editing articles from doctors that people thought they could trust. Medtronics also miss lead the public by removing data that showed this device was not safe. They increased their profits by promoting off label uses of the device. Off label uses are not the official use of a product. Medtronic’s employee completely omitted any ethical responsibilities they had to their customers. Remember where it looking like Medtronic is the only stakeholder here, the consumer is also a stakeholder. They purchase these devices. A quote from Professor Edward Freeman said “stakeholders are anyone affected by the decisions of the business and they are important because they affected. We need to consider our obligations to those who are affected by our business decisions”. This was clearly not thought through at Medtronics. It was very obvious that the employees were only thinking about Medtronic and the company’s success.

If the objective of determining if something is good or bad is determined by measure whether it does more good than bad, then Medtronic practice of promoting their Infuse for off label use is bad. In 2009 there was 21,240 hospital stays due to the spinal fusion using the labeled use of Infuse compared to the 119,227 hospital stays due to the off label use of Infuse. Based off of these findings it suggests that the off label use of Infuse was unsafe. More good than bad, it seems like a very simple concept, right? Not really, Medtronic at that point just released more and more articles about the safety of Infuse and this only drove up sales. In 2011 Medtronic reported Infuse accounted for $900 million dollars that year. Remember Medtronic paid doctors and editors $210 million dollar from 1997-2010. There was a lot of money to be made and with Medtronic only having 44 percent of the market share there was more to be made. The Marketing team at Medtronic was not thinking about the majority of people, they were thinking about the bottom line, their shareholders.

Trying to think about this in a rational way is not hard at first, then you see how deep people became involved in all the cover ups and how they had to continue to save themselves. It all started with the approval of the device and drug in 2002. Which from 2002-2008 there was only 290 complaints according to the FDA but there were over 100,000 hospital stays from the off label use. After the FDA released a public heath alert about Infuse and the concern about the off label use of the device and drug. This is when the complaint started to arise. In 2009 there were 239, then in 2010 there were 340 and 2011 there were 1,905. At that same time Medtronic really started working with doctors to promote the off label use of Infuse. As the article came out, the more it was used and the more the complaints arose. Remember in 2011 Medtronic did $900 million in sales. This was a big thing, a big money maker. The higher ups at Medtronic were only looking at the dollar sign and all the potential that Infuse had, not the safety of the people. If they would have just did their homework and looked for a steady incline of business this may have had a lot of good uses, but Medtronic is a publicly traded company with a board of directors and shareholders to keep happy.

Virtue Theory
Not one person that was involved with Infuse was honest with the company, to the patients, or to themselves. No one at Medtronic, not one doctor, nor did any of the publishers have the courage to stand up for what is right. People were getting sick, suffering, and ever losing their lives. Is money more important than a life? They had a good product when used the right way. They just saw the all the potential of Infuse and just pushed their product to anyone, completely overlooking the safety and the moral obligation they had to their shareholders and only focused on the stockholders. When Medtronic made the decision to withhold, and falsify documents to promote the Infuse was wrong at so main levels. Even after there was warning about Infuse, they paid Yale to do an “independent” study that showed it was safe. After all the complaints like infection, bone and nerve injury, sterility, urinary problems and possibly even an increased cancer risk they still did this. They put themselves above all others for their success and financial gains.

The company I oversee today makes medical device. We have one device that does have it FDA approval. I completely understand how easy it would be to falsify documents, and miss lead people on your product, but what I do not understand is how you ethically can do this. This whole thing could have been avoided by just posting the side effects of Infuse. Ethically what went wrong was greed. They see the money and the potential that Infuse had to make even more money. The bone grafting market is 1.9 billion dollar industry were Medtronic ours 44 percent of. There is also a competing device made by Stryker Biotech that received its FDA approval in 2001. With Stryker making it to the market first maybe Medtronic thought they needed to do something to capture the market share? You know in the medical device or any field sometimes it is not how good your product is but when you make it to the market. This would have put a lot of press on Medtronic to try and capture their market share. What went wrong was Medtronic panicked. The tried everything and anything they could do to capture the market share and promote their product.

"Our History." Medtronic History. 17 Feb. 2014. Web.

"Infuse Bone Graft Lawsuit – Lawyer, Attorney & Legal Claims." DrugWatch. 26 Mar. 2015. Web.

"Infuse Bone Grafts – Side Effects & Spinal Fusion Problems." DrugWatch. 21 Aug. 2015. Web.

Baucus, Max. "The United States Senate Committee on Finance." : Newsroom. 25 Oct. 2012. Web.

"MAUDE - Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience." MAUDE - Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience. 31 Oct. 2015. Web.

"Staff Report on Medtronic's Influence on Infuse Clinical Studies." Max Baucus, 1 Oct. 2012. Web. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Citigroup and Co. manipulate Libor (2005-2008)

Comic strip teasing bankers for manipulating libor
The London Inter-bank Offered Rates, or Libor is the average interest rates at which banks can borrow from each other. These numbers are gathered by the Thomson Reuters data Collection service from some of the top banks in the world. The numbers reported by the chosen banks are then used as benchmarks for Libor rates. These rates are responsible for how much interest is charged on mortgages, credit cards, student loans, and currency exchange. One major bank who's numbers are usually used as Libor benchmark is Citigroup. Around from 2005 to about 2008 several activities involving Libor brought upon suspicious that the rates were being manipulated. Upon further investigation and with the help of a whitsleblower form an unmentioned bank, it was found that JP Morgan Bank, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, and the Royal Bank of Scotland where manipulating Libor rates to seem more credit worthy, to charge more interest rates, and to maximize their profits. The Thomson Reuters data Collection service, government regulators, corporations, other banks, local business, individual clients, and all those who depend on Libor to financially function were deceived, and lost money as a result.

The main stakeholder in this scandal include the Market, Individual Clients, The company, Families of clients, Families of employees, Cartel, Regulator. Citigroup falsified Libor numbers in order to make more money, and as a result of this the market was functioning under false information and are therefore blindly overpaying for financial products and wasting money. Competitors receive less business because they don't seem as credit worthy as Citigroup. The company is heavily fined, and has to pay a portion of the $2.7 billion charged to the banks found guilty of foul play. The scandal in the U.S sector cost U.S user up to $6 billion dollars. The company took no steps to putting an end to the scandal and therefor several people got heavily involved and wear punish with up to 14 years in jail. The families of these employees suffer because they lose a loved one or a friend to prison. The company is once again stamped with an unethical brand. This investigation went from about the early 2000s to 2013. The regulators and law makers are affected because of the countless hours and money spent investigating the case.

Citigroup headquarters in New York City
The individualism theory says that a business’s main goal is to maximize profits for its owner and stockholders (Salazar, Chp2 ppt.). Citigroup members of the traders’ cartel met up, to manipulate Libor in order to make more money for the company and more money for themselves. According to both Milton Friedman and Tibor Machan's theory of individualism is okay because the goal was met, they maximized their profit. On the other hand, their actions also cost the company a lot of money. So it’s not fully deemed unethical or ethical.

The theory of Utilitarianism revolves around maximizing happiness in you and in others. According to John Stuart Mill, “Happiness or pleasure are the only things that are of intrinsic value and therefore should be spread to all those who are capable of feeling it” (Salazar, Chp3 ppt.) Citigroup took partook in illegal activities in order to maximize their profits, and the level of risk they took showed that they were desperately trying to acquire something that they want, something that makes them happy, money. While maximizing their happiness, they were simultaneously decreasing the happiness in their clients, the government, and the general public by stealing money, and are therefore deemed unethical.

Kant ethics deals with the idea that an action or decision is deemed ethical if its principles are driven by the good will. In addition to that, an ethical behavior, action, or decision is one that is rational, allows people to make rational decision, and respects all individuals (Salazar, Chp4 ppt.). Kantiansim deems Citigroup unethical because they were not operating behind any kind of good will. In addition to that, they manipulate their clients in order to maximize their profits. Their clients made business decisions without knowing essential information. They weren't put in a position where they'd be able to make a rational decision. The actions of Citibank simply shows no respect to those who they deceived.

Virtue Theory
The virtue Theory dwells on the “characteristics that allow things to function properly”. These characteristics are known as virtues, and these virtues are Courage, Honesty, Temperance, and Justice. Courage is described as “risk taking and willingness to take a stand for the right ideas and actions”. Although Citigroup took risks, the idea and their actions are not only wrong but are also flat out illegal, and therefore they do not have this virtue. The next virtue is honesty, another thing that Citigroup did not display at all. They lied to and deceived all those dependent on Libor, and as a result of their actions they lack the honesty virtue. The Temperance virtue is described as a “reasonable expectations and desires”, and Citigroup certainly lacked this virtue because they were trying to feed their desire to unethically maximize their profit and force clients to make clients pay fraudulent interest rates to them, instead of fulfilling their duties as honest traders. The last virtue justice entails hard work, quality, products, good ideas, and fair practices, all characteristics Citigroup lacks. They cut corners by manipulating the rate. They cheated the system in order to make more money. The lack of Justice officially deems Citigroup unethical under the guidelines of the Virtue theory.

Justified Ethics Opinion
Citigroup is flat out unethical simply because their actions were known throughout the company and not once did anyone see it fit to report it and put a stop to it. They obviously knew what they were doing, but didn't care it was ethical or not. They overlooked the fact that people who depend on Libor will be negatively affected. Their actions were a as a result of selfishness and laziness. There are white collar crimes that have been a result of misunderstanding or mistakes, but this was set up for one reason and one reason only, to profit. According to the LA times, a trader convicted of the same crime was quoted saying “if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying” (Starkman & Puzzanghera, 2015). This just goes to show that being unethical is not only part of these company’s culture, it is an industry wide practice.

•           Kickey, S., & Grierson, J. (2015, August 3). Former City trader Tom Hayes given 14-year sentence for Libor rigging | Business | The Guardian. Retrieved from
Intext: (Kickey & Grierson, 2015)
•           Vaughan, L., & Finch, G. (2013, February 6). Libor Lies Revealed in Rigging of $300 Trillion Benchmark - Bloomberg Business. Retrieved from
Intext: (Vaughan & Finch, 2013)
•           Beltrame, J. (212, July 15). Canadian connection to LIBOR scandal probed by Competition Bureau | National Post. Retrieved from
Intext: (Beltrame, 212)
•           MOLLENKAMP, C., & WHITEHOUSE, M. (2008, May 29). Study Casts Doubt on Key Rate - WSJ. Retrieved from
•           Treanor, J. (2012, July 6). Serious Fraud Office to investigate Libor manipulation | Business | The Guardian. Retrieved from
Intext: (Treanor, 2012)
•           Print edition: A giant leap for science. (2012, July 7). The rotten heart of finance | The Economist. Retrieved from
Intext: (Print edition: A giant leap for science, 2012)
•           Preston, D. (2012, October 10). Banking | The News Journal | Retrieved from
Intext: (Preston, 2012)
•           Martin, M. (1998, April 7). Citicorp and Travelers Plan to Merge in Record $70 Billion Deal - A New No. 1 - Financial Giants Unite - Retrieved from
Intext: (Martin, 1998)
•           Citigroup. (n.d.). Access Denied. Retrieved from
Intext: (Citibank, n.d.)
•           Starkman, D., & Puzzanghera, J. (2015, May 20). 5 global banks to pay $5.7 billion in fines over currency manipulation - LA Times. Retrieved from
Intext: (Starkman & Puzzanghera, 2015)
•           THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. (2015, May 20). Four banks expected to plead guilty to market manipulation - NY Daily News. Retrieved from
•           DAVID ENRICH, D., Mollenkamp, C., Reiker, M., Paletta, D., & Hilsenrath, J. (2008, November 24). U.S. Agrees to Rescue Struggling Citigroup - WSJ. Retrieved from
Intext: (DAVID ENRICH, Mollenkamp, Reiker, Paletta, & Hilsenrath, 2008)
•           Bischoff, V., & McGagh, M. (2013, 6). Q&A: what is Libor and what did the banks do to it? - Citywire. Retrieved from
Intext: (Bischoff & McGagh, 2013)
•           Dr. Heather, Salazar Chap, 2 Business Ethics and Economics and Individualism (PowerPoint).
•           De la Merced, M. J. (2012, July 10). Q. and A.: Understanding Libor. Retrieved from
•           BBC News - Timeline: Libor-fixing scandal. (2013, February 6). Retrieved from
•           Dr. Heather, Salazar Chap, 3. Utilitarianism and Business Ethics (PowerPoint)
•           Dr. Heather, Salazar Chap, 4. Kantian Business Ethics (PowerPoint)
•           Dr. Heather, Salazar Chap, 5. Business Ethics and Virtue (PowerPoint)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Oracle: A Controversial New CEO (2014)

Oracle Corporation logo
This case involves a long time reputable employee resigning from the company. The man replacing him, Marc Hurd, is known for past behavior that is not reputable. Mark Hurd was allegedly involved in multiple scandals as CEO of HP and damaged the reputation of the company. Stock for HP plummeted after Mark Hurd’s departure and it took several months for the company to get back on its feet. Shortly after this incident he was then taken in by Oracle as co-president and has since been a strong asset of Oracle’s success. Despite Marc Hurd’s past actions, Oracle was willing to give him another opportunity to restore his career. Marc Hurd was then named co-CEO of Oracle several year later. This lead to criticism from the press, as he has not been CEO since his stint at HP. It also lead to stockholders losing trust in the company and withdrawing their support for the company. There is speculation that this is a scheme for Mark Hurd to restore his reputation and look to redeem his position of being a CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world. It is now up to Mark Hurd, to regain the trust of the public or to waste his opportunity with another mistake. Mark Hurd is looking to change his status with the public and to lead Oracle to be a prosperous company in the industry.

The stakeholders are the CEOs who make key decisions. These decisions directly impact the other stakeholders such as executives, employees and stockholders of the company. Mark Hurd and Safra Catz are co- CEOs and will make decisions that will affect the direction of the company. This will be responsible for the success or the failure of the company. Larry Ellison has stepped down to be the Chief Technology Officer of the company. He makes decisions on what type of technology should be distributed and what innovations to made to better the products. Jeffery Henley is the Vice Chairman of the Board. He supports the CEOS on their duties and may replace a chairperson in place of their absence. Reggie Bradford is the Senior Vice president of product development. He runs the steps to efficiently produce the product to maximize the profits of the company.


Mark Hurd, CEO of Oracle Corp, known for his scandals
while working with HP

Individualism states that the only objective of a business is to maximize profits and to increase the value for the stockholders. A business must be responsible in their actions to gain a profit for their investors. Individualism is important in my case as it deals with the decision makers of the company. The CEOs of Oracle make decisions that directly affect the stakeholders of the company. This is why it is crucial to make the right decisions in order to keep the company in good standing. The controversy surrounds Mark Hurd as he was involved in a previous scandal which negatively affected the stakeholders. He is looking to restore his name and lead the company to success under Oracle.

Utilitarianism states that happiness is the only thing that is important. It encourage to spread happened toward others, this makes the individual happier about themselves. It is important for Mark Hurd to implement utilitarianism as it creates an environment of happiness throughout the company. This makes it more likely for stakeholders to make decisions that will grow the company to success. If a wrong decision is produced, the state of happiness may not be present in the company As positive results come through, there will be a reinforcement of happiness in the company. This creates a sense of sustainability throughout the company to keep spreading the happiness of other by taking the right course of actions.
One should practice acting in a moral fashion by respecting others, their autonomy, and their different outlooks. An individual must be motivated to do what is right and to promote good will within a business. Kantianism has a lot do with the controversy as Mark Hurd is criticized of being immoral. His past behavior shows clear signs of immoral and irresponsible behavior. This harmed the company he was in and led him to be fired from his position due to the multiple scandals he was involved in. Kantianism is the key for Mark Hurd to reestablish himself as one of the top CEO’s in the technology sector. It is more difficult to have practice Kantianism when one has already broke the laws of being immoral. This is why it will take time for Mark Hurd to regain the trust of the investors and will have to show that he has now changed for the better and will have to make decisions that positively impact the company.

Virtue Theory 
Oracle Corp. headquarters in Redwood City, CA

The Virtue theory states that one must be willing to take risks in order to grow in business. There must be courage within to stand behind these decisions when the outcome is revealed. One must also be honest in their actions. Mark Hurd must implement these traits into his business regimen in order to be successful. The virtue theory gives the company the right traits to perform in an honest and moral fashion. Investors may see the behavior of company as virtuous and may gravitated by this new way of business. Mark Hurd will gain respect for establishing a moral attitude throughout the company. He needs to channel the pressure from the media and do his job based on the virtue theory. Mark Hurd may have to work harder in order to sustain a virtue in his decisions, but it will be rewarded in the long run with success and praise from the stakeholders.

Justification Ethics Evaluation
This situation with Mark Hurd would all be avoided if he were to be motivated to making the right decisions in the business world. He should have thought about the outcome of his actions before getting involved in a troubling scandal that hurt the reputation of his company and his career. There will always be criticism of his actions throughout his career because of his past. It is now up his new position as co- CEO of Oracle to turn his reputation around. Mark Hurd must focus on being motivated to make the right decisions as they will directly affect the stakeholders of the company. Oracle will be monitored closely by investors and stockholders, so it is Mark Hurd’s job to lead the charge in continuing Oracle’s success in the technology of relational databases.

Oracle is a company that put it's trust into Marc Hurd. He needs to see that he has an opportunity by having a second chance in life and to learn from his mistakes. Marc Hurd must take advantage of this chance and be the best CEO he can be for Oracle. Marc Hurd must implement utilitarianism, individualism, Kantainism, and virtue theory to be successful. These attributes will create a culture of sustainability for the company and will ensure the growth of the company.