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January 06, 2018

Continuing the Momentum in 2018

by Joseph N. Mariano

Click here to order the January 2018 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

You can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been. I used this same forum to discuss our achievements in 2017. Many aspects of the Direct Selling Association’s 2018 priorities will emphasize building on the positive foundation we have laid this past year in self-regulation, ethics and advocacy.

DSA is just concluding our first year of reviewing 100 percent of our membership to ensure compliance with the DSA Code of Ethics. We have reviewed social media, salesforce and corporate websites, company-provided materials and other information to broadly assess compliance with the requirements of the code. Based on the reviews, DSA has counseled member companies regarding compliance with the code and directed appropriate remedies when necessary. Additionally, the association will use the results of the review to inform our next steps at effective self-regulation and to provide appropriate counsel to the membership at large.

There is more ahead regarding the association’s role in industry self-regulation. We have listened closely to the direction outlined by members of the Federal Trade Commission and taken heed. Senior member company executives have begun discussions regarding a program to expand the scope of DSA reviews, the use of independent third parties in issue resolution, increased resources, transparency and other matters to ensure that DSA’s self-regulation is as robust as possible and demonstrates the ongoing commitment of DSA members to the highest level of marketplace ethics and business practices. Members of the DSA Executive Committee, Ethics Committee, and management team will be traveling the country to solicit feedback from DSA members on the structure of the program as we work to implement the new process by 2019.

DSA’s enhanced self-regulatory efforts will go hand in hand with DSA’s top legislative priority—support and passage of federal and state consumer protection legislation that clearly defines pyramid schemes to distinguish these unscrupulous businesses from legitimate direct selling companies. Federal and state statutes that clearly delineate legitimate direct sellers from these schemes is vital. DSA will continue to support this effort in the U.S. Congress and state capitals.

However, we can’t do it without the help of DSA members. While DSA is your voice, advocacy is a collaborative effort between the association and our members. This requires not only engagement of your corporate executives, but your salesforce as well. Through DSA’s advocacy portal, we can send millions of pieces of correspondence to Congress in support of legislation that provides clarity to our business model.

Pending federal legislation is bolstered by public support by current and former attorneys general, state legislators, consumer advocates, and former high-ranking government officials, among others. These leaders understand the positive impact such legislation will have on consumers, minorities and entrepreneurs across the country.

We are not just looking back, but moving forward.

Accomplishing these goals will not only help our companies and distributors, but also provide unparalleled consumer protection. Building on the progress made on these fundamental tenets during 2017 will ensure future success and additional support of the value and impact of direct sellers on the American economy. I look forward to an exciting and bright future for the direct selling community in 2018.

Joseph N. Mariano is President of the U.S. Direct Selling Association and the Direct Selling Education Foundation.