Frequently asked questions on corporate membership

Q1. What is a corporate membership with the BDA?

A corporate members is an organisation who works with the BDA more strategically and demonstrates support for the BDA and the profession via an annual membership package. These relationships play a part in helping the BDA to achieve its aims and the delivery of our strategic plan. They also enable the corporate member to establish a meaningful relationship within the BDA via a package of account management, services and discounts. We have two levels of membership – strategic partner and key supporter. View the current list of members.

Q2. What is the application process?

The initial assessment is undertaken by the BDA office using the BDA Guidelines for working with commercial organisations. This process has been designed to support BDA officers and members in consistent decision making when evaluating any collaboration. Additionally, applicants for corporate membership are asked about their existing relationship with the BDA, their use of registered dietitians within the business, their key messages in relation to nutrition and health, and their major brands. They are also asked to disclose any unrelated activities which could concern or harm the BDA.

Q3. What is the BDA’s rationale for engaging with Industry?

Working with the mainstream food and beverage sector is not new for the BDA. In recent years the BDA has raised its profile significantly as an influencer of health, food and nutrition policy around the UK. While health and social care continues to change during difficult and challenging times, the BDA provides leadership support and skills, enabling our members to engage locally and nationally: to build on our past successes of effective collaboration - and to ensure our impact and reach continues to grow. As an organisation we are committed to achieving all these aims with the ongoing input from our members, partner organisations and staff. Our strategic aim is to work with organisations, which promote sound, evidence based messages on food, diet and nutrition.

Q4. What are the opportunities to influence manufacturers?

We have the opportunity to be a ‘critical friend’ to our corporate members as they are demonstrating an active interest in a meaningful dialogue with the BDA and its members. Expert input from members is facilitated via round table meetings, surveys, individual meetings and consultancy.

Q5. Is the BDA being sponsored by its Corporate Members?

There is a fee for corporate membership and, given that the packages are designed to extend an existing relationship, it is probably true that the companies seeking this membership do sponsor a range of BDA meetings, advertise in Dietetics Today and support other initiatives. This question is sometimes asked to help further understanding of how ‘sponsorship’ can create ‘influence’. Corporate members are valued like any other individual member, and are included in all member communications which will include policy updates and consultations. It is important to highlight that there is a separation between our partnership work and our press/policy work, meaning that BDA messaging will not be influenced by sponsorship income. Our transparency statement provides further context on this.

Q6. Does Corporate Membership imply an endorsement by the BDA?

The BDA is not endorsing any of its Corporate Member’s brands. Application for membership is open to all and we do not exclude any company from making an application after an initial discussion with BDA office (partnerships team). Though the applications are scrutinised – and this scrutiny includes a look at product categories and brands – we believe that members and our external stakeholders can and do differentiate between a collaborative project and an endorsement. We do recognise that the corporate membership can be used by organisations to demonstrate a company’s commitment to sound nutrition communications in an effort to establish credibility - and enhance market share. Hence our rigorous application process supports us to make appropriate decisions.

Q7. Does this fit with raising our profile?

Yes indeed. The Dietitians Week and #WhatDietitiansDo campaigns seeks to drive the demand for dietetics by raising the profile of the profession. In doing this, we demonstrate how dietitians work across a diverse range of organisations and agencies, including the food and medical nutrition sectors. The BDA and its members promote that dietitians are the first port of call by the public, governments, local authorities, other AHPs and industry for unprejudiced, evidence-based nutrition and dietetic advice.

Chairman’s Summary

This collaborative approach with corporate membership is just one step along the journey to working with industry and if we really do want to be acknowledged as the first port of call, then we need to move forward and engage with commercial companies, but on our terms. There is a robust process in place which requires companies to adhere to contractual obligations as laid down by the BDA and these are closely monitored. Working with industry brings many benefits and as with any initiative it will be carefully and responsibly managed by the BDA.

If you have any queries, please contact [email protected] in the first instance.