About Our Code of Ethics

All members of the GDC abide by the professional Code of Ethics.

Professional Ethics

All members abide by the GDC Code of Ethics. Used as a model by other international professional design associations, it was written to guide members in their professional practice.

The Code recognizes members’ professional responsibilities and commitment to taking a leadership role in the areas of society where graphic designers hold tremendous influence.

Adherence to the GDC Code of Ethics sets our members apart from non-members. Employers and clients can feel confident in knowing that our members have agreed to abide by these ethical guidelines in all of their business dealings.

Speculative Work
Members of the GDC do not engage in speculative work. “Spec,” or speculative creative, is work performed without fair compensation. It is often requested in exchange for “recognition” rather than payment. Crowdsourcing is another form of spec work, typically camouflaged in an online social environment.

The GDC asks clients to refrain from holding contests for work where many designers take part and only one person is paid. If you want to "try out" a few designers, pay them equally and fairly for the work created.

Speculative work is bad for designers.
It propagates the notion that designers enjoy and embrace opportunities to work for free. A design is a designer’s intellectual product and is worth appropriate compensation. Designers who engage in spec work erode the industry for future designers.

Speculative work is bad for clients.
Work produced in this manner does not benefit from a professionally conducted design process involving insight, research and a creative brief. The results often fall short of adding proper value for the client, their brand or their product.

We ask clients to refrain from asking for sample solutions in requests for quotes. Rather, ask to see samples of the designer's portfolio containing work of a similar nature to your requirements (websites, books, stationery, corporate identity, etc). Contact references, then interview the designer.

Speculative work is bad for our profession.
Work without fair compensation, proper consultation or due diligence undermines the value of our profession in the marketplace. 

Grievance and Discipline Procedures.
The GDC has a formal Grievance and Discipline process for mediating and resolving any breach of the Code of Ethics. This process helps protect members, clients and the public.

Download the GDC Code of Ethics