You’ve heard the scuttlebutt. Direct selling is scammy—a rogue industry where ethics are tossed aside for profit.
But what if there’s another side to the story? The truth is, that hundreds of reputable direct selling companies prioritize transparency and ethics, and they contribute to the economy in a positive way. It’s a thriving industry that is scrutinized and policed by several organizations like the Direct Sales Association (DSA), Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF), and Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The direct sales industry’s success hinges on reliable regulation. These organizations have a two-fold mission to keep consumers safe and help companies succeed. Credible direct selling companies have a vested interest in fine-tuning their industry’s ethics and reputation—both are vital to how they contribute to the United States economy and beyond.
The only way to really ensure that there are high standards for safety and ethics in an industry like this one would be through some form of regulatory system. If this industry continues to grow, we need to make sure it’s done so in an ethical manner and can adapt to changing consumer needs. Without reliable regulation, there will be little to no success in this industry.
Unfortunately, most countries do not have clear-cut regulations and consumer protection in place.
A company like USANA Health Sciences, Inc. has made ethics their mission. Integrity is one of their core values, and they dedicate ample resources to ensure they comply with regulations in all markets where they do business.
Direct Selling Association
The DSA is a national trade association that supports and protects consumers and direct sellers by keeping companies accountable to strict, ethical standards. Members of the DSA apply and recommit annually to its Code of Ethics. So, when considering buying from or joining a direct selling organization, first find out if they are a DSA member.
DSA members and independent sellers are provided services to help them run their businesses well:
Resources. For direct sellers, the DSA offers career resources for filing taxes, navigating health insurance, and filing code complaints. Access to industry research, government relations, direct selling advocacy, and press releases are just a click away.
Advocacy. Ethics enforcement protects consumers and independent salespeople. Through Code of Ethics policies, members are held to the highest ethical business standards. Enforcement procedures back up these policies, allowing anyone to file a written complaint to be investigated by an Administrator.
Education. Conferences, seminars, webinars, and networking keep direct selling executives and members up to date on best practices in the industry’s ever-changing landscape. Sponsors like USANA Health Sciences and Exigo help make these events possible. And the DSA has created the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) to bring direct selling education to the public and students.
Direct Selling Education Foundation
The DSEF “partners with the academic community to expand the knowledge and understanding of fundamental direct selling principles.” Their vision is to educate the public on the value of the direct selling industry and its role in strengthening economies worldwide.
They proudly partner with schools and “professors in a variety of disciplines—including entrepreneurship, marketing, ethics, consumer studies, business, and economics—to commission academic research, develop content, and host direct selling education programs on university campuses across the country.”
Direct Selling Education Foundation promotes education in direct selling and offers scholarships to help students who want to pursue careers in direct selling get an education.
The Direct Selling Education Foundation offers online courses and workshops to help salespeople develop skills and knowledge, helping them work toward becoming successful entrepreneurs in their own right, even if they never have to set foot in another company’s office again!
The Direct Selling Education Foundation was founded to provide information about direct selling and ethics in business for those seeking employment, those already in direct sales, and for educational purposes at all levels.
The truth is, that hundreds of reputable direct selling companies have been sued and even more people have won lawsuits against them.
With free articles and blogs, campus events, and grants for aspiring sales-focused students, the DSEF empowers educators and their students with useful classroom content to enhance any curriculum. And they’re constantly adding new resources (watch a few sample modules here).
Federal Trade Commission
This government organization defines how direct selling companies can structure themselves and operate in the United States. They specifically target unfair and deceptive practices regarding compensation and recruitment within direct selling companies.
Any company that incentivizes recruiting above commission for selling products is at risk of non-compliance.
The FTC will bring legal action against companies that violate the FTC Act. They also investigate complaints and product claims to ensure companies and their marketing are being truthful.
Federal Trade Commission has sued for damages for claiming that products were organic when they were not and are taking enforcement action against those who make such claims in order to stop unfair competition from their deceptive advertising.
Ethics Are Key
Maintaining ethics for a large sales force requires checks and balances. Because the DSA and the DSEF require ethical conduct, they highlight organizations that stand out for the systems they put in place. It holds itself to the highest standards of integrity. When asked how his organization maintained the highest standard of ethics, Dr. Myron Wentz said the following.
“Our compliance and regulatory departments make sure everything we say in any of our publications, videos, and even on stage is both factual and within all lawful regulations.
“As for our Associates, we hold them to high standards as well. Any Associate found to be acting outside the rules may be subject to a business termination.”
They Have Your Back
Direct selling plays an important role in the economy. And protecting consumers and sellers are a top priority for organizations like the DSA and DSEF. When exploring the world of direct sales, you can rely on them to make sure the companies you interact with put ethics first. Aligning yourself with companies that are members of the DSA supports the thriving future of an ethical industry.