CPA Tom Walpole discussed what defines an ethical business and the effort to recognize Rochester’s best Monday during News 8 at Sunrise.

Walpole explained ethics breaches can come on a mass scale, like Enron or the Madoff ponzi scheme, or a smaller scale. “You’re going to see the small ones that people don’t really think about as an ethics violation, like at the water cooler talking about somebody’s problem with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or things like that, plus people changing golf scores, or managers unfairly taking action against one employee for something and not another. Those types of things are small business ethics violations, but they tend to go on everyday.”

Prioritizing ethics in business can have a ripple effect. “It’s going to carry-on forward,” said Walpole. “It’s going to be in your business life, and hopefully it’s going to carry-on into your private life as well. It’s going to make people trust business more. People have not trusted businesses for a long time, but there are so many good businesses out there, they just don’t make the headlines.”

Companies utilize several methods to ensure an ethical approach from employees. “A lot of them have an employee handbook, and they hold true to it,” Walpole said. “They tell people what to do, and they prioritizes things. They tell people that you’ve got to do these jobs and we’re going to hold you accountable for these things. People do that to keep their name good and company’s name good.”

He added, “Social media is a big thing. Some people get mistreated at a job, in their own eyes, and so they’re going to blast the company or manager on social media. That’s not good, so they discourage people from doing things on social media that aren’t good for the company’s reputation.”

The Rochester Area Business Foundation will present the Ethie Awards on Monday, October 2 at Geva Theatre in Rochester. The event begins at 4:30 p.m. and will last until about 7:30 p.m. For the fifteenth year, the top ethical businesses in Rochester will be recognized.

The Ethie finalists this year include Broccolo Tree Lawn Care, Holy Childhood, Interpretek, Leonard’s Express, Ontario County, ProNexus and Stantec Consulting Services. An independent judging panel will determine the winners.

Over the past years, two of the local award winners have gone on to receive the American Business Ethics Award at the national level.

You can nominate a company for next year, or learn more about business ethics, click here.

Also, on November 1 at St. John Fisher College, there will be a screening of “The Truth About Lies,” which explores the human tendency to be dishonest.

For information for the New York State Society of CPAs, click here.