AS direct sellers, we need to recognize that achieving difficult tasks requires many hands collaborating to help make lighter work out of an otherwise heavy load.
Certainly, celebrating our individual company achievements contributes to a stronger direct selling channel. But as we vigorously reach out to one another to share our accomplishments, the message of our values and our commitment to forging a new, modernized direct selling far too infrequently reaches beyond our channel.
If we are to have the desired impact of demystifying our business model—as has been discussed within industry circles for years—talking about ourselves amongst ourselves isn’t enough.
True advocacy is more than recognizing our achievements and sharing our successes with each other. Carrying the message of our accomplishments to the legislators and regulators who impact our channel is the activity that makes a real difference for direct selling.
Advocating on behalf of the channel, together with the help of DSA member companies, is a constant battle in which DSA engages on the industry’s behalf.
In addition to DSA’s regular communication with Commissioners and senior staff of the Federal Trade Commission, promoting the business to legislators on Capitol Hill, state legislators and state Attorneys General is vital to advocacy that makes a difference.
The impact of letting legislators know about direct selling’s commitment to self-regulation and targeted enforcement was evident during a United States Senate Commerce Subcommittee hearing last month. United States Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) expressed her support for the Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council, and Senator Mike Lee’s (R-UT) questioning was consistent with DSA’s position that the Federal Trade Commission should have authority to collect monetary damages under Section 13(b) but with sufficient guardrails for American businesses.
Advocacy is best when companies are a part of conversations with elected and government leaders.
In fact, during the past two years, DSA has held roughly a dozen women’s entrepreneurship roundtables and town halls with the great assistance of company executives and salesforce members. These intimate conversations, created through DSA’s relationships with elected officials’ offices, have a significant impact because of their ability to carry the authentic, genuine and unimpeachable stories of individuals engaged in our channel.
We all know that our business has its skeptics, and none of us can hide or ignore that fact. That is why DSA works every day to create opportunities for these most influential audiences to hear the most accurate representation of our business model.
Our channel builds trust with these allies because DSA builds relationships with these leaders. When we invite officials into our circle, DSA amplifies our members’ good work and commitment to upholding the highest consumer protection standards.
I ask all participants in the channel to visit DSA.org to learn more about the robust advocacy initiatives in which DSA is engaged every day and every week of every year. More importantly, if you can serve as another set of hands to lighten the load of these efforts, I invite you to do so.
JOSEPH N. MARIANO is the President of the U.S. Direct Selling Association and the Direct Selling Education Foundation.
From the March 2022 issue of Direct Selling News magazine.