2011 Minnesota Business Ethics Award Honors Platinum Group

Platinum Group was honored as a recipient of the 12th annual Minnesota Business Ethics Award (MBEA) on May 18, 2011. The MBEA recognizes Minnesota businesses that have exemplified and promoted ethical conduct for the benefit of the workplace, marketplace, environment and community. Platinum Group was honored in the small business category. Klein Bank was the mid-sized company recipient and Mosaic was the large-company recipient.

"It was a proud day for all of us at Platinum Group," said Founder and Chairman Dean Bachelor. "This particular award is special, as it cuts to the core of who we are and what we stand for. We are honored and humbled."

David Rodburne, Vice President, Center for Ethical Business Cultures (CEBC), presented the award with these comments: "Platinum has a compelling mission statement and core values that are captured in two words: Meaningful CapitalismTM. In the course of their business relationships, Platinum works to transmit its commitment to values and ethical culture to the clients its serves.

"Their referral balance sheet – in the spirit of the movie "Pay It Forward" – is a unique way to do business that reflects that culture. The sheet lists all of the firms to which Platinum refers business and its part of their effort to help their clients to succeed.

"In its turnaround and consulting work, Platinum focuses on building long-term relationships, investing in the people (human capital) as well as the revenue (financial capital) of their client organizations; and always acting in a manner that is respectful of previous management. The company has addressed issues, concerns and bumps in the road, focusing always on choosing the right thing to do."

Doing the Right Thing

All of the firm’s core values are models for Platinum’s commitment to ethics. For example, the value statement for "Do the right thing" reads: "If engagements force a choice between making money and doing the right thing, we will always do the right thing."

In one such case, Platinum held a one-year warrant that would allow it to buy, at a pre-determined price, the company that it was in the process of turning around for a client. The owner had agreed to the warrant but, as the one-year period approached, Platinum was asked to reconsider the warrant. The business was doing much better and, in retrospect, the owner didn’t want to sell. What to do: exercise the warrant rights or walk away? Platinum chose the latter and honored the owner’s wishes. It was the right thing to do in that circumstance.

"I’m proud that we choose to lead companies in the right way," said Partner Donna Gray. "When we come in to save companies, this means saving jobs and keeping people employed so they can make their house payments. Meaningful capitalism comes down to the importance of a strong business and its impact on families."

How Platinum Group lives out its values

"We have intentionally linked our polices and values together," says Partner Bruce Mallory. "This is how we communicate and enforce our values with new and established members as a conscious way of representing the firm among clients."

Humble confidence is another core value, which indicates that members are always mentoring and educating client personnel so that the successor or leadership at the client company will eventually be able to carry on with confidence and competence. It is the firm’s policy to "work ourselves out of a job" so that organizations are not dependent on outside assistance.

Peer reviews are policies that are linked to the core value of competence, which ensure that members are following the prescribed "Platinum Process" in every client engagement.

The firm also helps its clients to build ethical cultures. Company leaders are prone to holding an offsite, strategic planning session and creating a mission statement and values. Too often, those words are hung on the reception wall or stuck on a shelf without helping employees to understand how to integrate those ideals into their work lives.

MBEA’s vigorous selection process

The MBEA was founded in 1999 by the CEBC at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business and the Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Financial Services Professionals. In 2009, the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants joined as an award sponsor. The MBEA has a vigorous selection process that selected this year’s recipients from more than 100 companies that were nominated.

The process starts with a nomination from someone is the community who has observed a business performing with ethical excellence, according to Bob Shoemake, Director of Programs and Membership, CEBC.

"We’re looking for companies that go above and beyond normal ethical performance; not standard practices," said Shoemake. "We always have previous award recipients on our judging panels. Over the years, these folks ramp up the standards and expectations because they want to preserve the integrity of the award, which adds another dimension of rigor to the process. They are sorting from the very best; the cream rises to the top."

Over the past 12 years, the MBEA has recognized more than 30 companies — some with less than 10 employees and others with more than 150,000 employees. "It 's not a matter of scale," said Shoemake, "it's a matter of attention to the most important things, which speaks well of the vitality and character of the Minnesota business community."

For more information about the MBEA or to nominate a Minnesota company, visit www.mnethicsaward.org.


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