With the 2012 Ethie Awards in September, the Rochester Business Ethics Award celebrates 10 years of promoting good business ethics in Rochester.
More than 10 years ago, the idea of a local organization devoted to the promotion of business ethics among Rochester’s small, mid-sized and large companies was more than a dream but less a movement.
Rather, the awards founder – Rochester Area Business Ethics Foundation president Alan Ziegler, president of Futures Funding Corp. and a past national president of the Society of Financial Service Professionals – saw this kind of award promoted by SFSP on the national level since 1994 and beginning to take hold locally in other American cities, including Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Dallas, and Minneapolis-St. Paul.
He recognized the opportunity for Rochester, then sought help in forming the organization that would take ethics from a “talk the talk” concept to a “walk the walk” movement.
He turned to another financial services colleague – Martin Palumbos, a principal in the financial planning firm PS&E LLC – to help him get an organization going. That innocent, exploratory conversation over breakfast has turned into a committed and passionate partnership to promote and support the creation of ethical business cultures in our Rochester area.
“From the very beginning we knew that bad news and bad behavior would always make a splash in the media, so our challenge was and continues to be finding a way to shine the spotlight of positive recognition on companies who do the right thing not the wrong,” says Palumbos. “The acceptance of this award program in the Rochester community has been very gratifying.”
Among the immediate needs were some “anchors” to the organization, established Rochester entities that would form a strong financial and organizational base on which to build a local business ethics movement. Ziegler and Palumbos found them: St. John Fisher College, The Rochester Business Alliance, and the Rochester Chapter of the Society of FSP.
Then there were sponsors, local businesses that would support the continued efforts of this essentially volunteer organization to conduct an annual awards program, stage a gala luncheon event, and put on programs that not only rewarded good business ethics but taught ethics as well.
Most important among these has been Sage Rutty and their president, Wayne Holly. “Their significant support, with both financial, manpower and consultative resources, has been critical in developing the Rochester program into the strongest and most successful in the nation,” says Ziegler. He adds that Wayne’s personal values and the strong ethical culture he’s created at his 100-year-old family-owned financial services firm have both served as a beacon of how to do it right and significant impetus for the success of the Rochester program.
With the awards luncheon as the highlight event, guest speakers were featured in some of the earlier luncheons and have included
• The late president of St. John Fisher College, Katherine Keogh
• New York State attorney general Elliot Spitzer
• Vanguard Funds founder John Bogle
• PAETEC founder Arunas Chesonis
• Executive director of the Center for Business Ethics at Bentley College, Dr. Michael Hoffman.
As the organization grew, it was recognized that business ethics isn’t a once-a-year event but a year-round conversation. Hence, other events were planned and produced throughout the year, each one with the intent of both initiating and raising the level of awareness of business ethics.
• RABEF collaborated with the Improv Group at Geva Theatre on a series of fun events that engaged an audience in the comic foibles and “ethical challenges” of a hypothetical company.
• RABEF partnered with the Institute 4 Priority Thinking for a series of ethics workshops, day-long events that helped participants better understand and apply principles of ethics to their daily business activities.
• As a 501(c)3 organization, RABEF expanded its scholarships from a single business student at St. John Fisher College to include students from Rochester Institute of Technology and high school students participating in the Rochester Chapter of Junior Achievement.
• Collaborated with Rochester Business Journal for a regularly appearing column on business ethics, authored by RABEF committee member James Nortz, director of compliance at Bausch & Lomb.
• Presentations to area professional and business associations on the value of practicing good business ethics and the opportunity the Rochester Business Ethics Award offers for area companies, if they enter, to systematically assess the level of ethics within.
• Sent three Rochester companies on to a national competition known as the American Business Ethics Awards. Over the past few years, three Rochester companies have received national honors: Midnight Janitorial, PAETEC, and QED Technologies. And in 2012, a fourth: Toddler’s Workshop Daycare.
• Video profiles of Ethie Award recipients and finalists, available on the RABEF website and serving as examples to the community of businesses that do things the right way.
RABEF remains committed to its purpose of “Promoting and supporting the creation of ethical business cultures in the Rochester area”. Two significant events are on tap for 2013 which will certainly support that purpose.
• The announcement of the Rochester Business Ethics Honor Roll – a group of the finalist companies over the 10 year history of the program. Given the significant depth of the entry process, any company that has been a finalist for this award deserves continuing recognition. The intent is to both recognize these fine companies and offer a forum where presentation and discussion of business ethical issues can be had. The launch of this program is scheduled for February 2013 at St. John Fisher College.
• With the help of RABEF’s educational partner, the Institute 4 Priority Thinking, Ethics Poll will be launched in late 2012 or early 2013. This will be a survey tool available to all companies in our region to measure their own ethical cultures as well as to compare/benchmark with other organizations of their size and/or business specialty in the Rochester region.
Previous RBEA Award Recipients
Bergmann Associates (Thomas Mitchell, President & CEO)
Toddler’s Workshop (Virginia S. Nacy, President)
LeCesse Construction (Andrew Hislop, CEO)
Schoen Place Auto (Jerry Elman, President)
ConServe ( Mark Davitt, President)
Dawnbreaker (Jenny C. Servo, Ph.D., President and CEO)
Parrone Engineering (Edward G. Parrone, President and CEO)
xpedx (Merit Wilkinson, Group Vice President)
Doyle Security Systems (John Doyle, President & CEO)
Midnight Janitorial (Angella Luyk, President) also a recipient of the national 2009 American Business Ethics Award for small companies
Hammer Packaging (James E. Hammer, President & CEO)
Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning (Raymond Isaac, President)
JML Optical Industries, Inc. (Joseph M. Lobozzo II, President & CEO)
JC Jones & Associates LLC (Jeffrey C. Jones, President)
SenDEC Corporation (Kenton Fiske, CEO)
Toshiba Business Solutions NY (Steven B. Sauer, President)
Home Care of Rochester (Louise Woerner, CEO)
Erdman Anthony and Associates, Inc. (Russell J. Bullock, President)
HR Works, Inc. (Candy Walters, President)
Monroe Litho, Inc. (Chris Pape, CEO)
PAETEC Communications, Inc. (Arunas Chesonis, CEO) also a recipient of the national 2005 American Business Ethics Award for midsized companies
Dixon Schwabl Advertising, Inc. (Lauren Dixon, CEO)
QED Technologies, Inc. also a recipient of an Honorable Mention in the national 2005 American Business Ethics Awards
Bob Loeb, Robert Loeb Communications