Ethics And Sharpening Our Competitive Edge

Direct Selling Association

We all know how Amazon has impacted competition on the product side of our business, and the emerging gig economy players that rely on independent contractors have brought even more disruption to the marketplace.

What makes direct selling so attractive—our commitment to creating a more supportive world for independent contractors—is central to who we are as an industry.

While DSA’s new ethics and self-regulation initiative will ultimately protect consumers, it also shows the world our “true north” and our commitment to being held to the highest ethical standards. This new ethics and self-regulation program will make direct selling more competitive than ever before; I can state without reservation that this initiative represents one of the most valuable and momentous programs for the membership and industry alike.

The anticipated program has been built upon DSA’s decades long legacy of self-regulation and represents a new bold, revolutionary effort to improve direct selling’s reputation and positively position our dynamic retail channel and support the independent contractors who are the lifeblood of our micro-entrepreneurial opportunity.

Over the course of the last several years, DSA has sought to “raise the bar” for our ethics and self-regulation program with frequent input from Federal Trade Commission (FTC) staff and sitting FTC Commissioners. At last year’s DSA Fall Conference 2017, Federal Trade Commission Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen shared characteristics that the FTC views as the most ambitious and effective self-regulatory initiatives being used today. Ohlhausen described characteristics of effective self-regulatory programs as:

  • Having clear, meaningful and fair standards;
  • Adequately-funded and independent from industry members; and,
  • Supported by effective enforcement mechanisms, applicable to the entire industry.

DSA also set out its own principles to define the program’s framework. DSA engaged the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council/Council of Better Business Bureaus to develop a new third-party self-regulatory program for the direct selling channel, to work in conjunction with the DSA Code and to meet the characteristics set out by Ohlhausen, and the principles identified by DSA.

The resulting program will demonstrate the commitment of DSA members to establish and support a comprehensive self-regulatory program based on existing standards of advertising law and regulation, as well as standards embodied in the DSA Code of Ethics. The direct selling program will provide an independent mechanism for monitoring income representations and product claims by direct selling companies on an industry-wide basis.

In addition, DSA has consulted with a broad range of industry leaders for their input on the program and has continued to inform the Federal Trade Commission of our progress while garnering additional insights.

I am enormously grateful for the engagement of the membership on this crucial initiative and your invaluable leadership and support. I am excited to discuss how this bold new program’s impartial, independent, and accountable processes will set new standards for direct selling industry participants and favorably position direct selling and DSA.

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