While we have all heard these things in the past, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a busy design business and forget some of the basics, such as professional ethics and standards. As practicing designers, we should always behave in a way that is ethical and professional.
That being said, you will not please everyone all the time. Even adhering to the most stringent guidelines, you will likely experience conflict and frustration as well as satisfaction and exhilaration. So be aware of the major areas of professional ethical concerns that could impact your relationships with clients, suppliers and other professionals. A reputation is hard to build and easy to lose so always keep the following in mind:
1. Make full disclosure to your clients, clarifying the scope and cost of the job. For example, do not tell a client that you will only charge a small fee, when you intend to sell furniture retail to a client and make a 50 percent profit.
2. Keep the best interests of your clients in mind at all times, protecting their safety and choosing healthy, earth-friendly solutions when possible. Comply with all laws, codes and regulations.
3. Do not make changes in quality, quantity or materials to increase your fee. This temptation is greatest when a project is over budget. Changing the quality of materials in quoted proposals or specifying excessively expensive items merely to increase one’s total commission is not good practice.
4. Always respect the confidentiality and privacy of your clients. Do not discuss the budget of your client with suppliers and contracted third parties.
5. Treat your suppliers and other professionals with honesty and integrity. Never pass the blame on to someone else if delays or problems are the result of your own errors or lack of timeliness.
6. Always meet your financial obligations. Keep records of all financial dealings.
7. Be honest.
Following these guidelines will not only keep your conscious clear, enabling you to focus on quality design work, but also earn you many referrals from satisfied clients.