Integrity as Market Inefficiency

In 2023, the International Association of Better Business Bureaus (IABBB) embarked on a mission to uncover consumer sentiments and business preferences through an extensive survey of about 2,500 consumers from the U.S. and Canada.

Among the myriad factors consumers consider when choosing a company, honesty and integrity emerged as the most important attributes, with 59% of respondents affirming its significance. This surpassed conventional determinants like competitive pricing, good reputation, customer service quality, and positive reviews and ratings. It also underscored the enduring importance of ethical principles in consumer decision-making. Notably, this sentiment cut across all age demographics as the most important attributes of a business, from those aged 18 to 24 to those aged 65 and above.

In an era characterized by rapid technological advancements and shifting consumer trends, the enduring relevance of honesty and integrity highlights a persistent market inefficiency. Despite the convenience of modern-day consumerism and the abundance of bargain-hunting opportunities, customers continue to prioritize businesses that uphold ethical standards. While these principles may seem straightforward, many businesses and nonprofits often overlook both in the pursuit of profit.

Recognizing the paramount importance of ethical business practices, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) introduced the BBB Torch Awards for Ethics program over a quarter-century ago.  In 2023, this initiative expanded with the introduction of the BBB Spark Awards, aimed at recognizing leaders under 45 who exemplify a commitment to ethical conduct and customer-centric values. These awards spotlight entities that prioritize crucial attributes such as character, culture, customers and community impact.

Unlike many accolades, participation in the Torch and Spark Awards entails no financial burden or membership requirements. Whether BBB Accredited or not, businesses, charities and the leaders of both are encouraged to partake in this recognition process. It is a celebration of what our communities can be proud of: Those who do the right thing regardless of who is around. Applicants undergo an online evaluation, which assesses the organization’s leadership character, cultural authenticity, customer relationship prioritization and community engagement efforts.

The BBB Torch Awards Luncheon, scheduled for Tuesday, September 24, promises to be a momentous occasion celebrating exemplary leaders and organizations for their ethical endeavors. Further details about the application process and event can be found at The BBB awards program provides a platform for the most deserving to shine, emphasizing integrity and ethics — the most crucial attributes in the minds of consumers.

BBB Student of Integrity Scholarship Recipient

Student: Heather Riensche
Currently studying at: University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Major/Area of Focus: Environmental Engineering
Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2026

What does Integrity mean to you?

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To me, integrity is about upholding values at all times. Sometimes that means doing the right thing when no one is watching. Other times, that means rejecting peers when they would rather you make another choice.

When joining the workforce, what are your expectations for an employer/organization?

When thinking about the workforce, I want to join an organization that impresses me; I hope to find a company that cares about its community, clients, and employees. In engineering, this is especially important because of the lasting impacts engineering firms have on their communities. As I consider the companies I am currently hoping to intern with, I am most interested in the companies that talk to prospective students about serving and uplifting the people they encounter.

As an SOI recipient, how has the scholarship helped you with your educational journey?

The Student of Integrity Scholarship has been a blessing to my educational journey. The financial assistance has helped me pursue my dreams. Going into collage, I chose to major in microbiology. I still hoped to work with water resources, but I thought microbiology was the best fit for me. During my first semester, a few meaningful conversations caused me to consider engineering. After making the change to environmental engineering, I love my new major and classwork. I am so grateful for the assistance you provided, and I look forward to my coming semesters.

Better Business Bureau of the Midwest Plains

Address: 11811 P St, Omaha, NE 68137
Phone: 402-391-7612
Social Media: @BBBMidwestPlains