Is there room for ethics in client work?

 wrote this 3 months ago in Freelancer News

Is there room for ethics in design?

Design studios are taking an ethical stand. CR finds out if ‘good’ clients and big business can ever truly live in harmony

Came across this article on an agency owner who was dealing with a common question. Where do you draw the line between your ethics and your client's business ethics?

“There’s a huge amount of pressure on agency owners to bring in work that pays salaries and all that stuff, and I think it’s very easy to have that ­optimism bias you just have by wanting to get work in the door,” Tapper continues. “I think that criticism probably was a bit hard to stomach at the time, but it was a fair point and we went back to the drawing board.”

He actually developed a tool to deal with this question when deciding to bring in new clients. 

In answer to this, Nice and Serious launched The Moral Compass – an internal tool that lets every single brief that comes into the agency be anony­mously and democratically voted on by the entire team. It works on a simple mechanism that asks each team member to use a pair of sliding scales to show to what extent they agree or disagree with two statements: does this brand want to have a positive impact on the world? Will this project have a positive impact on the world? The team gets between three and seven days to vote, which Tapper says gives them time to do their own research. 

But it doesn't seem like this tool has necessarily helped.

“The democratisation of that decision just means you’re ultimately getting lots of subjective opinions and trying to come to an objective outcome from that.”

What do you think? Is choosing ethical clients something you think about?How do you decide whether a new client is not a fit for ethical reasons? 

What about if you're in a dry spell and desperate for work? Where is the moral line for your company?


Interesting idea. It would be good to see if they follow up that article later on in - I'd like to know if it makes a genuine difference to the clients they take on, or if they're ultimately making the same decisions, just three to seven days later than they would have done.
Hey Gavin! Yeah, I thought the same thing. As we've seen in the past year with companies like Basecamp having a 3rd of their employees resign it doesn't seem like Ethics by Committee is a simple solution at best. And at worst, a solution that can't succeed at making anyone happy with the outcome. I'm more interested in how freelancers make the decision for themselves, as that seems like something where adopting a decision-making process can work.

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