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BBB Torch Awards

Celebrating Ethical Businesses

By Rod Davis, CEO, BBB serving Southeast Florida and the Caribbean

After a year in hiatus due to COVID, the BBB Torch Awards return on July 21, 2021, to recognize and celebrate businesses that understand the importance of trust with their customers and community that is best achieved through a culture of ethical practices.

For 37 years I have worked closely with large corporations like General Motors, Google, and smaller businesses like Nozzle Nolen and Essig Pools here in South Florida. What I have learned from interacting with them and monitoring the business world is that no business will be successful in the long run without an ethical framework integrated into the business to guide interactions with suppliers, customers, employees, and the community. What the best businesses have in common is a leader at the top of the organization who champions the mission of servant leadership and works continuously to keep the business running consistent with the mission of service to customers, communities, employees, and suppliers. During difficult times, businesses may feel pressure to cut corners and compromise. The BBB Torch Awards celebrate the businesses that continue to live up to their highest standards, especially when challenges arise.

Businessmen making handshake with his partner in cafe - business etiquette, congratulation, merger and acquisition concepts

2020 was a difficult year for everyone, but it was also a year when individuals and businesses stood out for being ethical business leaders with a mission powered by the vision of excellence. The BBB Torch Awards evaluates businesses based on the following standards:

Criteria 1: Character Leadership

  • How leaders strive to live and lead with high character and intentionally seek feedback in order to make personal improvements.
  • How leaders empower staff to carry out the organization’s commitment to building and maintaining ethical business practices.
  • Tools, activities, or training that reinforce staff’s commitment to character ethics as part of the organization’s normal business practices.

Criteria 2: Culture

  • How leaders unite the team around the organization’s vision and mission statement.
  • How leaders empower employees to help shape the expectations and culture of the organization.
  • What practices the company uses that demonstrates leadership’s commitment to individual employees.

Criteria 3: Customers

  • How the business empowers employees to proactively address issues experienced by customers.
  • How a business goes above and beyond to maintain transparency with customers.
  • Demonstrated instances where a business commitment to honesty was a positive differentiator in a challenging customer interaction.

Criteria 4: Community

  • Programs or events that the organization has in place to actively engage with the community.
  • How employees are encouraged to and recognized for spending time in community service activities that the organization and employees value.
  • Contribution of funds or in-kind services to community programs consistent with the organization’s values.

In addition to meeting these standards a business must meet other basic requirements: 

  • For profit and 501(c)(6) applicants must have a “B” rating with BBB;
  • 501(c)(3) non-profit applicants must complete the Charitable Standards Evaluation process and meet all BBB Standards for Charity Accountability;
  • Organizations must have been in business for three years;
  • All financial obligations must be met;
  • Applicants are not eligible if they have received the Torch Award in the past five years;
  • Government agencies are not eligible to submit an application.