About the Inaugural Rockford Torch Awards

Encouraging and supporting ethical business practices is a key purpose of the Better Business Bureau. The Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics is the most prestigious award the BBB can present to a business. Being a recipient indicates that the business not only believes in the high standards promoted by the BBB, but also consistently acts on them and continuously integrates them into daily business practices.

The Inaugural Rockford Torch Awards will be presented Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at the Capital House in Rockford, IL from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.

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To receive a Torch Award, the business must meet the following general guidlines. (Specific requirements listed below)

1. Submit Entry Packet either online or hard copy binder

2. Met Eligibility Requirements

  • Entrant must be a for-profit business
  • Business may be a BBB Accredited or non-Accredited Business
  • Business must be located within the service area of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago & Northern Illinois. Click here for counties served.
  • Business must have a physical prescence in the BBB service area
  • Business must be in operation for at least one year at the time of entry

3. Selected by a team of outside judges from local colleges, universities, and businesses as being worthy of a torch award

Juding is based on the material presented by businesses that supports specific evaluation standards, and the size of the business.

Full Entry Guidelines

The Torch Awards for Ethics (Torch Award) honors companies whose leaders demonstrate a high level of personal character and ensure that the organization’s practices meet the highest standards of ethics, and consequently generate trust. These companies generate a high level of trust among their employees, customers and their communities. The award embodies the Better Business Bureau® mission of advancing marketplace trust.

These are the five available size categories based upon your number of employees:

  • 1 - 9 employees
  • 10 - 99 employees
  • 100 - 499 employees
  • 500 - 7,500 employees
  • 7,500+ employees

The nominated business must be located within the service area of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Illinois. Check here for a list of counties served.

The Judging Process
The Torch Awards are presented in the January time period to businesses that have been nominated and then provide an entry packet for analysis by a team of outside judges from local colleges, universities and businesses. Remember, since the judges do not know your organization, your written submission (including examples, stories and documents) should provide a robust and accurate description of the organization’s culture.

Criteria for selection are based on the six Principles of TRUST!, established by BBB.

Entry Submission Requirements
To enter the Torch Awards competition, a business must first be nominated. Self-nominations are accepted. Businesses that have been nominated and meet eligibility requirements will be notified and provided information for online or hardcopy entries.

We fully understand that no leader, nor their company is perfect; each company is unique and has different experiences and policies. Consequently it is not necessary for the applicant to address all of the suggested content for each of the six criteria. Examples are merely provided as illustrations (not requirements) of possible content to demonstrate each Principle. We encourage you to find examples of your leaders’/organization’s practices that best exemplify each, or any, of the six Principles of TRUST! Completed Torch Awards entry materials must be sent via online form, email, sent with postmark, or delivered to Rockford Regional Office of Better Business Bureau 401 W State St #500 Rockford IL 61101, or personally delivered no later than January 2, 2018.

  • Upload any supporting documents (description of practices, example stories of practices, policies, employee manuals excerpts, leader communications, etc.) in the “supporting" document sections (pages 4-9)
  • Include materials (mission statement, company communications and publications, news media articles, company advertising, letters of recognition or commendation, customer testimonials, and the like) that demonstrate the company's strengths regarding each of the

Key Dates

  • Application Period Close - January 10, 2018
  • Awards Reception - January 24, 2018

The following areas are the criteria used by the Torch Awards judges for evaluating entries. Relevant Topic Ideas are those subjects that you may wish to address, or include in your entry as substantiation for your statements.

Criteria 1: 
Leadership Commitment to Ethical Practices

Describe how leaders in your organization work to increase the manifestation of their own high character in the organization’s culture. Describe how these Ethical leaders show positive character traits are an essential guide to life and work.  

Relevant Topic Ideas:

  • A statement of the leader’s or leadership team’s personal code of ethics and how this code became personally significant.
  • A copy or formal code of ethics that has been adopted by management and/or the board.
  • A personal letter from the CEO/President or Owner that includes a statement of his/her commitment to ethical business practices.
  • Description or evidence of leaders’ participation in workshops/conferences or training in ethics
  • Coaching/mentoring and feedback assessments that demonstrate that leaders seek to improve their ethical leadership practices. 
  • How the leader(s) are transparent, value candor, or receive personal feedback from the organization, vendors, or customers (possibly including how such feedback has led to personal change). 
  • Any public statement (speech, advertising, business material, or publication) of the leader’s commitment to ethics.
  • Cases/stories of leaders admitting error or the need for personal change, accepting responsibility, and taking corrective action.

Criteria 2: 
Communication of Ethical Practices

Tell us how your leaders reinforce and build a culture of trust. Showcase how leadership intentionally behaves and communicates with one another, employees and stakeholders in ways that are consistent with their beliefs.

Relevant Topic Ideas:

  • How new employees (including part-time or contract employees) are informed and/or trained in the company’s ethical policies.
  • How the CEO/President/Owner’s personal code of ethics is communicated to employees, vendors, or customers. 
  • How ethical practices are made part of the day-to-day operations of your organization through specific policies or training for employees, (or volunteers).
  • Tools or activities that model, mentor, teach and reinforce defined character ethics as part of normal business/ management practices. 
  • Use of a character code or content in management/employee meetings. 
  • Ethical practices/expectations documented in vendor relation manuals, customer policies, or stakeholder relation’s procedures. 
  • What employees are taught/encouraged to do if others in the organization are not following the ethical code of the organization? 
  • How ethical behaviors of employees are identified and recognized.
  • Examples of ethical challenges faced and how they were resolved.
  • Common practices of identifying and/or addressing violations of the organization’s ethical code.
  • Examples of situations in which your organization demonstrated ethical decision-making. Include the dilemma or problem faced by your organization, possible choices you had for resolving the issue, the pros and cons of each option, any resources that were consulted, and the final outcome.

Criteria 3: 
Leadership Practices to Unify the Organization

Leaders unify the organization around clear purpose and compelling convictions.  Show us how you establish and emphasize the “whys” of your organization – why work here, why be a customer, why be a supplier, why we are who we are?

Relevant Topic Ideas:

  • How organizational statements such as “Vision”, “Mission”, “Core Business Values,” “Culture Description” or “Business Purpose” have been created and/or are used to unite the team. 
  • How these statements are shared with existing and potential employees. 
  • Examples of training and policies that assist employees and corporate officers in carrying out ethical practices and behaviors
  • Leadership practices or communications of progress or adherence to the vision/mission of the organization. 
  • How feedback, collected from the marketplace, is used to assess the organization’s performance and focus employees on common issues. 
  • How feedback from employees is utilized to make adjustments in organizational practices
  • How recognition/celebration or other practices are used to unite employees and reinforce the mission or organization’s values. 
  • Compensation systems/factors that help to unite workers.
  • Transparency of, and teaching of, management information and reports.

Criteria 4:
Organizational Commitment to Performance Management Practices

Leaders guide organizational performance by implementing high competency management practices.  How does your organization continually manage performance by establishing goals, measuring achievement and allocating just rewards?

Relevant Topic Ideas:

  • The planning process, including time frames and the organizational levels that participate. 
  • Practices in the use of clear measurements to evaluate progress, analyze performance and adjust plans to accomplish goals.
  • The processes/systems of establishing individual/team/department objectives or targets including time frames and responsibilities.  
  • Practices using performance information to encourage, guide and motivate.
  • Samples of your advertising or promotional informational materials that you feel particularly exemplify your focus on ethical expression
  • Rewards and recognition that integrate performance and high character or ethical behavior.
  • How employees demonstrate accountability for performance and ethical behavior.
  • How innovation is encouraged and rewarded.

Criteria 5: 
Organizational Commitment to Ethical Human Resource Practices

Summarize how the leadership team adopts and implements human resource practices that prepare, continually support/recognize and provide opportunities for growth of all staff members.

Relevant Topic Ideas:

  • Hiring practices that insure people are hired for character. 
  • How employees are involved in hiring practices.
  • Unique systems and processes for training and preparing staff. 
  • Practices and procedures to resolve ethical issues. 
  • Any policies or procedures that specifically insure that employees are treated fairly, respectfully, and that workplace safety is ensured.
  • Mechanisms or procedures for employee professional development. 
  • Termination practices that demonstrate respect of the individual. 
  • How employees influence organizational practices and decisions.
  • Operational systems that support the individual employee’s ability to perform.
  • Processes that insure meritorious selection of individuals for assignments and responsibilities.
  • Other practices that demonstrate leadership’s and/or organization’s commitment to individual employee.

Criteria 6: 
Organizational Commitment to the Community

Give examples of how the leaders or leadership team transfer their ethical beliefs by their active engagement with their industry and the communities from which the organization derives its customers, workforce, vendors, investors and governance.

Relevant Topic Ideas:

  • Participation in industry organizations and activities to promote best practices
  • Programs, contributons, and activities that return value and support to your community
  • Examples of your ethical standards in the marketplace
  • Recognitions or acknowledgements by industry peers, trade associations, or communities
  • Contribution of funds, or in-kind services to community programs

Promotional Benefits - How To Get More Value From Your BBB Torch Award

With your employees:

  • Brief HR and employee-relations specialists about Award.
  • Place the BBB-issued news release on company bulletin boards.
  • Put story in your internal newsletter about receiving Award.
  • Have supervisors announce the award, its meaning and value.
  • Place mention of Award on your intranet site/internal communication.
  • Post pictures of receiving Award on your intranet site/internal communication.
  • Place BBB-provided video on your intranet site/internal communication.

With your customers/clients:

  • Send an announcement of receiving the Award via Twitter, Facebook, email, and your social media channels.
  • Put story in your customer newsletter about receiving Award.
  • Place mention of Award on your website.
  • Post pictures of receiving Award on your website.
  • Post announcement of Award on all social media outlets, and on your business LinkedIn page.
  • Position note of receiving BBB Torch Award on your email signature line.

With your vendors/suppliers:

  • Brief vendor-relations personnel about Award.
  • Send an announcement of receiving the Award via Twitter, Facebook, email, USPS mail.

In your sales presentations:

  • Brief sales staff about Award and its meaning and value.
  • Put Torch Award logo on business cards, letterhead, print collateral.
  • Put BBB-issued news release in sales presentation.
  • Display trophy and information about award in trade show and recruiting booth displays to differentiate your company.

At your company’s location and in the community:

  • Purchase replicas of award for all locations.
  • Use Torch Award logo on “giveaways” for customers or for use at trade shows.
  • Highlight in any Board of Directors meetings.

With the News Media and Trade Media:

  • Send news release with photo to local news media that cover the businesses where all company locations are located.
  • Send news release with photo to all trade/professional media that cover the company and the industry segment.
  • Send news release with photo to all bloggers that write about your company and industry segment.
  • Use Torch Award in newspaper, radio and TV and billboard advertising.


All Torch Award advertising and promotion must adhere to the Council of Better Business Bureaus Torch Award program advertising guidelines.

Winning a BBB Torch Award is a great honor – leverage it

With employees
With customers
With your industry
With the news media

For more information about the Torch Awards, please click on the links below:

Enter Your Business
Benefits to Receiving a Torch Award
View Past Award Recipients

For more information about the BBB Torch Awards call
815-963-2222 or rockfordtorch@chicago.bbb.org