Working towards greater standards for trust between people and businesses
Angie Barnett is the president and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland. For over a century, BBB has provided people with reliable, unbiased information about the myriad businesses serving their local communities. The national BBB hosts reviews of millions of companies in the US, and facilitates hundreds of thousands of disputes between consumers and businesses each year. As an independent not-for-profit organization unaffiliated with any government entity, BBB seeks to improve standards of marketplace education and trust.
EDWIN WARFIELD: How is BBB using the internet to expand and continue pursuing its mission? Does BBB compete with other review sites, such as Yelp and Angie’s List?
ANGIE BARNETT: Every year, BB has what we call our Torch Award for Ethics. And yes, it’s another award for businesses, and there are so many that are out there, but ours is unique in that our recognition is for integrity, ethics, and trust that are in the business practices that the owner sets into motion, and that is simply how they treat their vendors, how the business owner treats their employees, how they treat their customers. It’s a very grueling process. We will have 67 people nominate to apply for the Torch Award. Then, we distribute the award out, or the application process, and we begin to see businesses say, “I really can’t meet those standards”— that’s always impressive to me, because that gives a business a goal to work towards—or a business saying, “I don’t have all of this documented to capture and put into the application,” but it’s simply looking at the simple business practices a business puts into place to build trust from the ground up. That is how they advertise, their employee manuals, their privacy policies for the data they collect, their practices to try to protect their customers’ information from data breaches. It’s very inclusive.
Every year, we give out a few awards. Our process doesn’t require us to have a winner and a finalist in all of the categories, and the categories are based on business size—it’s only fair to do it that way. If we don’t have a winner in that category, we don’t choose a winner. But the ones that we put forth are businesses that have proven practices of ethics and integrity in how they do business with their customers.
Q. What is BBB up to right now?
A. Locally, BBB is really gearing up for our 100th anniversary, and we are trying to take into consideration services we provide to consumers and the business community. Clearly, we’re going to have a birthday party. We hope that in the fall that we’re looking at a unique venue. It’s about having the right people there who recognize the value of trust in the marketplace, and they’re there to celebrate it with us. We laughingly say, but we’re serious—and I challenge you to come in and check it out—we want a wonderful birthday cake from one of Maryland's famous bakers. We want to have fun with it, but we also want to have a few legacy moments and that is we’re not trying to do it all ourselves. We believe in partnership, so we’re partnering with other business associations, business networking groups, and local chambers to have networking opportunities with quality speakers to talk about the role and value of trust, integrity, and ethics in the marketplace. Building our partnerships is a legacy of this year.
We’re also looking to do something we hope is really wonderful, and that is the reformation of BBB’s Foundation. We do have a charitable arm of BBB. It’s been very dormant. We want to bring together business leaders. An outcome and a legacy of our 100th is really looking at creating consumer awareness and education around fraud—even scam prevention. We have some innovative ways that we believe we can do it, and that’s back with the advent of the internet and social media. We have more tools at our disposal to make people aware of things they should avoid to protect themselves—their identity, their money—and so we hope that one outcome a year from now is that I’ll be telling you all about our Foundation, not just about Better Business Bureau.
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Founded in 1969, KatzAbosch is one of the largest CPA and business consulting services in the Mid-Atlantic region. Our mission is to provide the highest quality accounting, tax, financial and management consulting services to our clients. We understand the needs and challenges of our clients and we have made it our obligation to create, grow and protect asset value. The experts at KatzAbosch offer a full service solution while maintaining a tradition of ethics and incorporating the latest technology and unique business practices. Excellence in an industry often begins with how those closest to the company—its clients and employees—feel about it. For these individuals, KatzAbosch is a place where people and businesses excel and prosper. Our advisors can meet all of your service needs including; Audit & Accounting, Business Valuation & Litigation Support, Consulting, Estate Planning & Administration, Financial Institution Services, Forensic Accounting & Fraud Examinations, State and Local Tax (SALT), Taxes & Planning.
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