DSEF’s Board of Directors brings to the Foundation a wealth of experience and expertise that helps it fulfill its mission both inside and outside the boardroom.

On November 4, 2013, Board Member Dr. Linda Ferrell, Professor of Marketing and Bill Daniels Professor of Business Ethics at the University of New Mexico (UNM), led a panel discussion at UNM’s Student Center for the Public Trust comprised of direct selling industry experts: Lori Bush, President & CEO, Rodan & Fields; Alan Luce, DSEF Board Member and Founder & CEO, Luce, Murphy, Fong & Associates;  John Parker, DSEF Board Chair and Chief Sales Officer, Amway; and John Wyckoff, President, Dove Chocolate Discoveries.

The panel discussion, “Crisis Management Strategies and Implementation in the Direct Selling Industry: The Role of Ethical Leadership,” demonstrated to students how the industry supports ethical conduct and educates the public when ethical challenges occur.

We recently spoke with Linda about the importance of fostering ethical business practices and DSEF’s role in educating the public about the direct selling industry.

Linda Ferrell

How long have you been involved with DSEF?

I joined the DSEF board in the Spring of 2009. I was very familiar with the work of DSEF through their strong relationship with the Academy of Marketing Science as well as their support of some ethics conferences that we were involved with.  I also knew about DSEF from my work with the CUTCO/Vector College Advisory Board.

What do you feel is DSEF’s value to the public and the direct selling industry?

DSEF helps to elevate an industry that provides so many entrepreneurial opportunities for individuals throughout the world. DSEF proactively sees opportunities and supports member needs. The development of ethics training resources, the education program with community colleges, and the commitment to elevate awareness of the opportunities that direct selling creates are phenomenal resources. I recently joined the ethics committee and see their work as very vital and relevant to helping member companies manage current and potential risks they may face.

How important is it for business leaders to support and promote ethical business practices?

It looks like we are going to survive the global financial crisis, but unethical activity by a few has had a far reaching negative impact on our economy. Ethical business conduct is the ‘glue’ that holds relationships together. The direct selling industry, more than many, understands the importance of a strong relationship grounded in exceptional products and promoted through dedicated and trusted distributors. To say that good ethics is good business and good for the bottom line is an understatement. Ethisphere’s Worlds Most Ethical Companies have outperformed the S&P over the past five years. Everything a company does to support ethical conduct in their organization is one of the best investments they can make. The days of seeing investments in ethics as an unnecessary expense are behind us!

What specific challenges do you see affecting direct sellers in the marketplace?

We still have yet to see the ultimate benefits of social media in supporting the goals of the industry. That along with the ongoing work of DSEF, DSA and others to inform consumers and educators about the strengths, benefits, and unique and entrepreneurial elements of the direct selling business model will continue interest and growth in the industry.

In addition, the ‘naysayers’ who threaten the integrity of the industry simply do not understand marketing and the direct selling business model. These attacks create opportunities for DSEF and others to clarify these inaccurate conceptualizations.  The marketing function and relationships built look and work differently in a direct selling firm than a traditional business. This has been a great strength of the industry from its inception.

Thank you, Linda! It’s great to get to know you better, and we thank you for your support!