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Direct Selling Association

When I worked at my first job on the Hill, I had the privilege of working with Neil Offen, the DSA’s president at the time.

He was kind enough to help young staffers envision where our professional lives would lead. He encouraged us to become involved in the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). Years later, I was fortunate to work for Neil at DSA. He invited me to become an ASAE member, and today I follow in his footsteps and take advantage of participating in ASAE activities.

At DSA, I was able to learn from Neil and my colleagues about the direct selling channel. However, it was ASAE that provided me with the tools to learn how to become an effective association executive. So I too encourage DSA members to be involved in their industry association.

DSA is the vehicle that encourages the sharing of ideas between executives no matter their current job function or product line they represent. I have seen DSA knock down the silos that so often separate those in the channel.

There are many disruptive forces facing direct selling. Working strategically and collectively with other direct selling executives we can come up with solutions that ensure our success now and in the future in this ever-changing marketplace.

There’s never been a more exciting time to be a part of DSA. DSA and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) have created a third party, self-regulatory program that will launch in January 2019, the Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC). For more than five decades, the DSA had a self-regulatory program for its members. This new program, at the urging of the Federal Trade Commission, will apply to DSA members and non-members alike. It articulates clear principles, but primarily was initiated and took action based on consumer complaints. The creation of a new, proactive program represents a step forward to raise the bar for the direct selling industry.

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The new DSSRC will monitor the entire U.S. direct selling industry and will embody the following principles:

  • Clear industry standards on issues such as product and earnings representations;
  • Identification of relevant best practices from other self-regulatory models;
  • Creation of a process that both monitors and enforces strict business principles; and
  • Enacts measures to raise the bar of excellence for DSA members and the entire channel.

The program foundation is built on—

  • Comprehensive active monitoring of the direct selling marketplace, including websites and social media of companies and their salesforce in the areas of income representations and product claims;
  • Independent investigation and reporting of unresolved violations of non-compliant companies to the Federal Trade Commission;
  • Rigorous, competitive challenge process, enabling other companies to identify issues for the DSSRC; and
  • Increased consumer protection that will complement law enforcement with the hallmarks of successful self-regulation.

As a DSA member, your company will have a hand in shaping and supporting the new self-regulatory effort to be a fair and effective resource for the entire industry. DSA members will receive discounted access to a searchable database of the program’s decisions. Membership has its privileges.

I invite members to make a New Year’s resolution to increase involvement in their industry association. And, I invite you to join DSA if you are not already a member. Please have a seat at the table at this crucial time. As they say in Washington, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.

Nancy M. Burke is the Vice President of Membership for the Direct Selling Association (DSA).