November 01, 2016
Best Practices for Ethics
Several years ago, I read a book by John C. Maxwell, There’s No Such Thing as “Business” Ethics, and it has helped shape my philosophy and leadership at Team National. In this terrific book Maxwell shares that there are no business ethics, just ethics that apply in our personal and business life. He believes that if we all follow the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” —Matthew 7:12) and apply it to our decision-making we will make good ethical decisions in all aspects of our life. The Golden Rule has certainly been a foundational philosophy of Team National in our decision-making for our staff and for our sales field in our 19 years in business. We often quote it in meetings as a reminder to consider both new and seasoned representatives or customers when making policy or decisions.
This is also what I bring to my current role as Chairwoman of the U.S. Direct Selling Association’s Ethics Committee—that mutual consideration for those within our industry. Under former Chairwoman Heather Chastain extensive discussions were held in 2014 and 2015 on the DSA Code of Ethics, and I am grateful for the time the committee took to make changes and to discuss increased transparency and self-regulation. As current Chairwoman I am committed to continuing to foster great discussion for next steps. We are all stronger, better and smarter together, so I encourage you to get involved in the discussions and actively participate when possible, sharing your thoughts on ethics and self-regulation.
In the fall of 2015, DSA provided educational information and clarity to upcoming amendments to the DSA Code of Ethics that took effect Jan. 1, 2016. At that time, the DSA code administrator also completed an audit of DSA member company websites to evaluate earnings claims. It served as an opportunity for DSA to reach out to several companies with suggestions for improvements, and the companies were grateful and willing to learn. We at Team National also looked at our materials and messaging with fresh eyes. Many of our materials were created years ago, so the new look was timely and needed. We found that although we followed the Golden Rule, there were opportunities for us to clarify our messaging and information for our customers and our Independent Representatives. If you haven’t reviewed your information with a fresh perspective recently, I strongly suggest it; you might be surprised that what seemed clear a few years ago could be improved to provide even more clarity today.
I firmly believe all direct selling company executives need to be actively involved in learning and following best practices in all aspects of our business. That’s why Team National started our review a year ago and made several improvements, with the commitment to continue to review our business on a regular basis.
With the current state of technology, information is now more accessible than ever before—so much so that we can all see and learn from each other through online avenues. This transparency can teach us all what to do, and often what not to do. For example, a year ago, we went to the top direct selling companies’ websites and observed how they shared their business opportunity and their success stories online. This helped us to adjust some of our language as it is used in training, sharing the business opportunity and communicating with our Independent Representatives. The DSA webinar last year gave us the framework of what we needed to do, and reviewing other companies’ materials gave us the application to discuss with our legal teams. For example, after reviewing several DSA companies’ sites, Team National created a business opportunity page on our main website, www.bign.com/businessopportunity, where we have our income earnings chart and our ethics video link for all to review.
In the past year, we also have become more intentional and proactive in our materials and our training with our sales field. We created additional guidelines for successfully sharing our product and business opportunity, which we send to our Independent Representatives via email along with a link to an ethics video within 24 hours of them joining Team National. We also follow up with a printed version. All three of these pieces communicate our expectation for how Independent Representatives share our message from the start. I believe that has helped us become more successful because our representatives can choose to watch a video, read an email or review it in print, whatever is most comfortable for them. It may seem redundant, but we have found we have had better implementation because not everyone likes to learn in the same format.
We have used the public activities in the past year to communicate openly with our Independent Representatives the importance of sharing our message with honesty, integrity and character—and without hype. We also explained the “why” behind our intentional focus and training. Overall it has been well received, because our Independent Representatives understand it is in all of our best interests to be transparent, accurate and truthful. Our top representatives have become our best brand advocates, and in turn monitor our brand, so that we can be realistic about the results, the earnings and the opportunity in general.
Team National is still coming up with additional ideas and ways to be transparent, to live out the Golden Rule for our customers and Representatives, and is actively involved with the DSA to learn and communicate thoughts and ideas to help us all prosper. The DSA Ethics Committee has a robust schedule and several subcommittees discussing recent events, lessons learned and possibilities for additional clarity and openness. As the Chairwoman of the DSA Ethics Committee, I am committed to active involvement in and open discussion on how together we can make DSA and our individual companies a pillar of ethics excellence for the generations and companies that follow.
Angela Loehr Chrysler is President and CEO of Team National.