2001 Minnesota Business Ethics Award Presented
For Immediate Release
Director of Programs and Operations
Phone: (651) 962-4127
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – A high-tech consulting company, a low-tech home improvement business and one of the world’s leading medical technology firms are winners of this year’s Minnesota Business Ethics Award (MBEA).
Karlsson Consulting Group, Window Lite Home Improvements Inc. and Medtronic were honored Tuesday evening, May 22, at the MBEA awards banquet. All of the award winners have gone beyond a minimum threshold of ethical behavior to excel in their performance.
The awards were given by the Minnesota Chapters of the Society of Financial Service Professionals and the Center for Ethical Business Cultures at a ceremony held at the Airport Marriott in Bloomington.
Karlsson Consulting is a 36-person information management and technology consulting firm. Among the characteristics that the judges highlighted are its 16-year-old practice of giving 10 percent of its profits back to the community, its open- book management and its business decision to emphasize quality over growth.
In the years 1997 to 2000, as the computer industry faced the Y2K challenge, Karlsson eschewed the balloon approach of indiscriminate hiring of computer tech staff and charging excessive rates for their services followed by the predictable layoffs afterward. While this approach limited growth and profits, it allowed consistent high performance and fair pricing for customers.
Window Lite Home Improvements Inc. is a specialty construction sales and installation firm with approximately 45 employees. Among other standards that exceed industry norms, the judges noted Window Lite’s refusal to make cold calls, to negotiate prices at will or to promise more than can be delivered.
The Twin Cities was hit by catastrophic wind and hailstorms in the spring of 1998 presenting the home improvement industry with more work than it could deliver. By August, Window Lite management realized that it was working with start dates four to six months out. Rather than continuing to sell to distressed homeowners, the company quit selling siding and roofing until it had fulfilled all of its existing contracts. In addition, it contacted all existing customers to let them know when their work would be completed and to allow them to get out of the contract with a full refund, if they preferred.
Medtronic is one of the world’s leading medical technology companies, with more than 25,000 employees worldwide. Demonstrating the power of a compelling vision for building an ethical business culture, its mission has not changed in more than 40 years. In spite of numerous acquisitions, Medtronic drives its values and ethical culture through every part of the business.
Among the many mechanisms for sustaining this culture is the Star of Excellence award, an internal award that recognizes outstanding Medtronic employees for contributions and achievements. The Star of Excellence award helps Medtronic live out that part of its mission statement that encourages recognition of the personal worth of employees. Its outstanding financial performance demonstrates convincingly that high ethical standards and exceptional profitability can go hand in hand.
The Minnesota Business Ethics Award was established in 2000 by the Minnesota Chapters of the Society of Financial Service Professionals and the Center for Ethical Business Cultures to raise the standards for business ethics in Minnesota and to honor those companies that exhibit the highest standards.
The Minnesota Chapters of the Society of Financial Service Professionals has approximately 800 members committed to education and ethics among professionals in the financial services industry.
The Center for Ethical Business Cultures is a nonprofit business association operating in a unique partnership with the University of St. Thomas Graduate School of Business and the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management. The Center focuses on ethical leadership and management, corporate citizenship and work/life.
The MBEA recognizes Minnesota businesses that exemplify and promote ethical conduct for the benefit of the workplace, the marketplace, the environment and the community.
A customer, client, employee, vendor or private citizen who is impressed with a company’s demonstration of ethical business conduct may nominate a business for the award. More than 130 nominations were received for this year’s awards.
Companies, whether public or privately held, are judged in one of three categories based on number of employees. Small companies have fewer than 100 employees, medium companies have between 100 and 500 employees, and large companies have more than 500 employees.
The foundational standards for the MBEA are found in “The Minnesota Principles,” published by Center for Ethical Business Cultures in 1992. The principles describe the ethical relationships that businesses are expected to maintain with all of their stakeholders: customers, employees, owners and investors, suppliers, communities and competitors.
In light of those stakeholder relationships, the MBEA looks at:
- What a company says it stands for
- How it does what it says it stands for, and
- How well it does what it says it stands for.
Local finalists may advance to a national competition that culminates in three national American Business Ethics Award (ABEA) recipients. The ABEA was inaugurated in 1994 by the Society of Financial Service Professionals.
In addition to the recognition which MBEA winners will receive, completion of the MBEA entry form provides businesses with a process for examining their ethics-management goals and processes in the light of best practices.
Originally published on May 22, 2001.