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UT seeks business role model

The school's College of Business seeks nominees for its seventh annual Ethics Award and hopes to reinforce eroding values.

By LINDA GIBSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 3, 2000


TAMPA -- The Center for Ethics at the University of Tampa's College of Business is seeking nominations for its seventh annual Ethics Award.

Nominating letters go out every year to about 400 people, resulting in about a dozen nominees.

The goal of the award is to recognize individuals in business whose personal and professional lives exemplify the values of responsibility, respect, trustworthiness, caring, fairness, justice and citizenship.

Past winners include former Gov. Bob Martinez and St. Petersburg Police Chief Goliath Davis.

William Rhey, executive director of the center and a professor of marketing in the College of Business, hopes that by calling public attention to these role models, the link between business success and ethics will be reinforced.

It is an idea that was more prevalent for the World War II generation, he said. He remembers complimenting a past winner of that generation on the numerous donations of time and money the man had made to community organizations.

"That's what we're here for," the man responded.

Boomers, he said, are not as imbued with the idea of community service. They also must grapple with business issues that didn't exist during the previous generation: workplace diversity, discrimination, sexual harassment, e-mail privacy.

The link between success and service is even more distant for the generation following the boomers.

"Gen Xers think those values are phony because they don't see them in action," said Rhey.

The ethics award is supposed to combat that. The center also helps develop curriculum for ethics courses that are required for undergraduates and graduate students in the business college.

Most large companies, particularly those among the Fortune 500, have codes of ethics and an executive of the company responsible for implementing them. Small and medium-size businesses, however, often see those as a drain on resources, said Wendy Plant, Rhey's assistant.

What they don't realize, she said, is that having an ethics code in place and a person to enforce it can go a long way toward mitigating damages or fines that arise from violations.

The Center can help there, also, by helping a company develop a code of ethics.

Nominees for the ethics award don't have to be upper-level executives. They do have to be in business, government, education or a non-profit organization, live and work in the Tampa Bay area, and have demonstrated integrity and an ethical character in the workplace and in everyday life.

To obtain a nomination form, call the Center for Ethics at (813) 258-7415. Nominations must be submitted by Nov. 15.

- Linda Gibson can be reached at (813) 226-3382 or gibson@sptimes.com.

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