Should CEOs of publicly traded companies have a right to medical privacy?
That question is on the minds of many traders after Apple announced that its chief and tech visionary Steve Jobs will take a leave of absence till end-June because of health problems "more complex" than thought.
Jobs, a pancreatic cancer survivor, dropped his bombshell in a cryptic announcement on Wednesday -- only nine days after he soothed jumpy investors somewhat by saying his dramatic weight loss over the past seven months was due to an easily treatable hormone imbalance. He had promised to remain at the helm throughout his treatment.
Wednesday's revelation, which contained scant detail on Jobs health, comes at a difficult time when the company is grappling with a slowing product line, rapidly worsening consumer spending and an uncertain succession plan.
There’s no doubt that the news hit Wall Street at possibly the worst time in history for any retailer, let alone a company like Apple who’s image is completely intertwined with its CEO. However, if you accept a CEO job in which you take other people’s capital, what are your rights to privacy?
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak tells us, “I disagree very much getting into (his) private life. It’s his business. Let him communicate to the public and to his friends the way he wants to.”
Jeff Macke is among the many Wall Street traders who feel quite differently Macke says Apple’s board really bungled the way they disseminated the information. “If your CEO shows up demonstrably ill and (as a board) you don’t convey that to the shareholders you’re doing them a disservice,” he says.
Business Week ethics columnist Bruce Weinstein feels much the same. He says, “A CEO or any leader of any publicly traded organization – their first responsibility is to the stakeholders. And those stakeholders have a right to know what’s going on.”
As we first told you yesterday Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook will take over day-to-day operations in what experts say could be a dress rehearsal for a more permanent CEO performance.
It will be a familiar role for Cook, who stepped in to run the company in 2004, when Jobs sought treatment for cancer
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> Steve Jobs Takes Medical Leave
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