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Markowitz, Odom and Wyche earn BBB’s ‘Torch Award for Ethics’

MADISON – Lillian Markowitz, Matthew Odom and Max Wyche each received a $1,000 scholarship for their essays for the “Torch Award for Ethics,” sponsored by the Better Business Bureau or BBB of North Alabama.

Markowitz, Odom and Wyche attend James Clemens High School.

The annual BBB Torch Award honors businesses that demonstrate exceedingly high standards of behavior, adherence to truthful advertising and an earned reputation for noteworthy contributions to their industries and communities.

Markowitz, Odom and Wyche received their scholarships at BBB’s 25th-anniversary Torch Awards for Ethics ceremony on Nov. 7 at The Westin Huntsville. The awards ceremony also honored businesses and nonprofits that exemplify outstanding ethics.

A senior at James Clemens High School, Matthew Odom wrote about businesses’ growing interest in community orientation, evidenced by their engaging in charitable events and providing scholarships to students pursuing a business-oriented career. Odom is considering business for his college major.

“Businesses want to have a ‘community-based’ pillar on their resume to show their positive approach to civic issues. They try to remedy any issues and become popular in communities across the country as businesses with integrity and moral civility,” Odom said.

“Businesses have learned community ethics is a guiding principle for a standard level of values, behavior and corporate decision-making, (plus) employee loyalty,” Odom said. “Businesses with a community-oriented focus have the interest of the public in mind. They value developmental projects, recruiting, charitable activities and grant scholarships to underserved individuals.”

“To have been honored by the BBB means a great deal to me. I’m excited to continue to grow in the area of business and ethics,” Odom said.

His family moved to Madison from Dallas in 2021 when his father was promoted with the FBI.

Also a senior at James Clemens, M. Austen Wyche saw his interest in ethics spark in a class, Madison CEO or Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities. The class explores inner workings of small business and economics.

“Corporations (can) prioritize profits over people. My essay addresses the need for business owners to balance their desire for profit with giving back to the community,” Wyche said.

“I’m passionate about advocacy and combating income inequality; therefore, I believe businesses play an intricate role in protection of human rights, equality of opportunity and fundamental traits of scholarship, citizenship and philanthropy,” Wyche said.

“I had not pondered the profound impact of the CEO class. (I) explored the imperative role of businesses in promoting change,” he said.

In his essay, Wyche wrote, “In a time of social media and mass communication, it’s imperative for businesses and governmental entities to be as transparent as possible. If a service is raised in price, consumers must have confidence that a business is doing this for survival, not due to greed.”

As a college-bound senior, Wyche will use the award’s impetus “to promote ethical business practices and advocate for policies that aid marginalized and underrepresented communities.”

Wyche’s family relocated here in 2016. His father works as Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Army Materiel Command; his mother works with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more information, visit northalabama.bbb.org.

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