Quality of the Candidates for Ethics Awards Was Special, Says Panel Chair
By Winthrop Quigley
Copyright ©2007 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer
A Los Alamos bank, a Santa Fe restaurant, a statewide food bank and an Albuquerque engineer are this year’s New Mexico Ethics in Business Awards winners. The awards, sponsored by Samaritan Counseling Center in Albuquerque, honor businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals whose work in New Mexico demonstrates the highest ethical conduct and social responsibility. The business winners, chosen from 17 nominees, are Los Alamos National Bank and the restaurant Vanessie Santa Fe. Roadrunner Food Bank, the nonprofit winner, was one of six nominees.
Victor J. Chavez, a founding partner of Chavez-Grieves Consulting Engineers Inc., is the winner of the PNM Award for Individual Excellence in Ethical Business Practice and was one of seven nominated. The individual award was created to honor John Ackerman, a former PNM chairman and a University of New Mexico business ethics professor whose students research the nominees and prepare reports for the selection committee to consider. The winners will be honored at a banquet April 18 at Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town on Rio Grande Boulevard NW.
Choosing the winners “was one of the most difficult processes this year because of the quality of the candidates throughout,” said D.F. “Duffy” Swan, chairman of the selection committee and a 2002 individual Ethics in Business award winner. “We were pleased we had to labor so hard.”
Victor J. Chavez takes a stand and sticks with it, no matter what the cost might be, because it’s the right thing to do, Swan said. Chavez helped lead the controversial and ultimately failed campaign to pass a Bernalillo County gross receipts tax to fund quality-of-life activities. He is president-elect of the Albuquerque Community Foundation. He is past chairman of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and a former Albuquerque Economic Development board member. “What we saw in Vic was a pattern of courageous ethical decisions in his business, in his personal life,” Swan said.
Swan, who is president of French Mortuary, sees business ethics as a way of maintaining a free society. Citing the work of political scientist Francis Fukuyama, Swan said that trust is critical to the maintenance of a free society, and business ethical lapses violate trust. “When trust breaks down, you tend to become more isolated,” Swan said. “Groups isolate from one another.” Society builds “more safeguards and processes and bulky mechanisms to keep it from happening again.” “When we have high trust in people, we give more room, greater freedom, greater access because we tend to believe their influence will create a greater good,” Swan said.