Proselyting is a term used in direct selling to describe the attempt to convert one or more salesforce members from one company to another. The ethics and legality of efforts to attract salespeople from one company to another is a subject of frequent and intense discussion by the industry.
It is considered to be an improper practice when Company A, or its representatives, specifically and consciously targets the salesforce of Company B with the intent of persuading Company B’s salespersons or employees not only to sell or work for Company A, but also to cease selling or working for Company B, thereby interfering with Company B’s business or contractual relations. This is not intended to encompass the occasional incident or two, but it does apply to situations involving more than several persons, where the pattern, approach and timing of Company A would clearly indicate an intention to adversely impact on Company B. If Company B sends correspondence to Company A regarding alleged proselyting activity, Company A is expected to appropriately respond within 30 days after receipt of the correspondence.
An Open Letter to Direct Sellers from
DSA President Joseph Mariano
Occasionally, direct sellers in the field will be approached by other companies or their sales leaders with solicitations to join those companies. Sometimes, these solicitors present misinformation and denigrate the company you are with. Those solicitations can be inappropriate, unethical, misrepresentative, or even illegal and may be at odds with the Proselyting Guidelines of the Direct Selling Association (DSA). Under those guidelines, it is considered unethical behavior throughout the industry for one company to target the salesforce of another company in an attempt to lure salespeople into their own organization and stop selling for their original company.
It is unfortunate when such behavior reflects poorly upon the direct selling industry and results in misinformation about our business being spread throughout our salesforces and the public. That is why we urge current direct sellers, or anyone who might be interested in a direct selling opportunity, to evaluate those opportunities on the basis of facts about the company doing the recruiting. Rumor or innuendo about other opportunities often prove to be just plain wrong. So when you’re recruited, examine the appeal of the products offered, the attractiveness of the earning potential, and a company’s commitment to the ideals and obligations embodied in the DSA Code of Ethics. Those are the factors most important to you in evaluating your current company or any future opportunity you may pursue.
All members of DSA are bound by our Code of Ethics and should follow our Proselyting Guidelines, which constitute our industry’s ethical standard. To review our Code, please visit our website at www.dsa.org. We wish you strength, success, and growth in your direct selling career.
When used in direct selling, proselyting simply describes the activity of a distributor for one direct selling company recruiting a distributor from another direct selling company. This may involve the recruiting distributor encouraging the other distributor to leave their current company or not. This could be a single isolated event or it could include an orchestrated effort by an individual recruiting distributor, group of distributors or the company to recruit many distributors from a particular company.
The Proselyting Guidelines are not part of the DSA Code of Ethics and therefore are not enforced by the DSA Code Administrator.
Proselyting is not restricted or prohibited by the DSA Code of Ethics or Proselyting Guidelines. The Proselyting Guidelines simply declares specifically and consciously targeting another company’s salesforce with the intent to have them cease selling for their current company to be an improper business practice.
Proselyting is not illegal in the United States. However making a false or deceptive statement about a company or its products or services is a violation of law and the DSA Code of Ethics. Attempting to persuade a distributor to leave their current company could potentially be tortuous interference with a contract. The distributor that leaves a company may have legal restrictions placed on their activities under the contract they signed. They may, for instance, be prohibited from recruiting others from the salesforce of the company they departed. They may be restricted from selling similar product lines for some reasonable period of time.
It is the view of the DSA Legal Department and General Counsel that a blanket prohibition by DSA on proselyting would be violative of the law. Individuals are free to communicate with others and choose for whom they would like to work.
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