2003 Minnesota Business Ethics Award Presented


Bob Shoemake
Director, Programs & Membership
Center for Ethical Business Cultures
Phone: (651) 962-4127
Emaill: rcshoemake@cebcglobal.org

A rapidly growing four year old medical device company that is being vitalized ethically and a sixty-five year old relationship marketing, travel and hospitality company that is being re-vitalized are recipients of the 2003 Minnesota Business Ethics Award (MBEA), presented on Wednesday evening.

The young company is MedSource Technologies Inc.; the long-established company, the Carlson Companies, Inc.

In choosing MedSource Technologies, the MBEA judges noted that many companies in start-up mode focus on only one thing – survival. Yet the start-up phase is when the cultural foundation of a company is laid, when the values are established that will guide the company through its subsequent stages of growth. The MBEA judges commended MedSource Technologies for working, even at this early stage of its development, on getting all of the right things in place to build a sustainable, ethical corporate culture: mission, values, clear accessible policies and processes, corporate citizenship and philanthropy – attending to all of its stakeholders, not just its shareholders and investors.To quote the judges, “This young company has done a lot, especially given how fast they are growing.”

In the Carlson Companies, the judges saw a mature company in a mature industry that is being revitalized by a number of initiatives designed to transform its culture from one of command and control to one of consensus building and teamwork. The judges commended Carlson for its clear statement of values and for its robust and well-developed ethics and compliance program. Beyond those basics, they recognized the company’s deliberate efforts – and successes – in empowering women, engaging a more diverse workforce and consistently being a great place to work; for its involvement in the community and its corporate citizenship; for working to be “a family of families,” and for setting goals with dates for changes not yet accomplished. Finally, they note that this private company, though not required to, has voluntarily chosen to adopt many of the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act because of its core commitment to business ethics, honesty and integrity.

The Minnesota Business Ethics Award was established in 1999 by the Minnesota Chapters of the Society of Financial Service Professionals (SFSP–MN) and the Center for Ethical Business Cultures (CEBC) to raise the standards for business ethics in Minnesota and to honor those companies that exhibit the highest standards. SFSP–MN has approximately 600 members committed to education and ethics among professionals in the financial services industry. CEBC is a non-profit organization which operates in a unique partnership with its business members and the University of St. Thomas College of Business and the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management. The Center assists business leaders in creating ethical and profitable business cultures at the enterprise, community and global levels.

The Minnesota Business Ethics Award recognizes Minnesota businesses that exemplify and promote the highest standards of 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. Over 140 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: Under 100 employees
  • Medium: 100 – 500 employees
  • Large: Over 500 employees

The foundational standards for the MBEA are found in The Minnesota Principles, published by CEBC in 1992. The Principles describe the ethical relationships which businesses are expected to maintain with all of their stakeholders:  customers, employees, owners & 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 April 25, 2003.

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