Wigand vs. brown and Williamson- ethical issues - Essay Example

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Wigand was the vice at Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corporation , under the department of research. Though he was on a high level of management, he was…
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WIGAND VS. BROWN AND WILLIAMSON- ETHICAL ISSUES al Affiliation) The story surrounding Jeffrey Wigand is one of such stories that remain epic in the mind of people for quite long time. Wigand was the vice at Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corporation , under the department of research. Though he was on a high level of management, he was unsatisfied with the manner in which the company was handling its matters particularly on ethics. He relayed his concerns to the company a situation that led to him being fired. Some of the concerns he presented included the dangers that cigarettes presented to the users. His concerns were not only grounded on the dangers accompanied smoking but also the fact that the company was adding chemicals to the cigarettes and this made the consumption of such cigarettes more addictive to the consumers. First, there was ethical violation of the consumers’ rights. Apart from the fact that the company endangered the lives of the people, it was also unlawfully and corruptly obtaining wealth from the unsuspecting consumers.
When investigation was instituted by the CBS, Wigand was convinced by Lowell Bergman to make his testimony proving the allegation through an interview. In the process of doing that, Wigand found himself in an awkward situation that put his entire life at risk. The information he provided regarding this malpractice was treated with contempt. He suffered a lot of harassment and faced numerous threats because of such crucial information.
The point of interest was that the CBS did not air the interview and the information that was presented by Wigand despite the risk he had taken. The main reason that the CBS gave for the failure to air the interview was the fear of litigation by the company. The CBS had broken law in this matter because of the omission. As a fourth estate, it was important that they work at the interest of the people and not base their actions on fear of actions being taken by the company. This was one of the major ethical dilemmas that CBS had placed itself in. It was now serving its own interests based on assumption rather than the interest of the people. It was revealed that the management of the CBS has chosen not to air the interview purely for monetary reasons. According to the study, it was revealed that the CBS did not want to taint their name with any legal issues particularly litigations, considering that they were at the verge of selling their company with the Westinghouse, and negotiations were at critical level. This envisaged litigation was seen to have the potential of lowering the company stock. According to the code of ethics required on the journalist, this act was in direct contravention of such codes. (Gregg, S., 2009)
It was also clear that the management of the CBS was practically not journalist and would simply focus on the business aspect of the company. Even though the management was interested in the stalk market aspect of the business, it was important that they understand that they were putting the reputation of the company on the line and could eventually affect the stock price.
Wigand also got himself faced with ethical dilemma when he decided to observe his own integrity rather than pledge loyalty to the company’s codes of operation.
Gregg, S. (2009). Profit, prudence and virtue essays in ethics, business and management. Exeter: Imprint Academic.
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