Ethics Committee


  • Review and revise RGD’s Code of Ethics to ensure they are clear and explicit on specific situations that are common in the industry.
  • Advise and advocate on ethical issues addressed in RGD’s Code of Ethics, as they arise from both design professionals, educators, managers and/or buyers of design.
  • Identity and advise on opportunities for RGD to help increase standards of professional conduct and ethics for all graphic designers.


  • (a) Rules of Professional Conduct/Code of Conduct
    • Develop resources/strategies to promote the new joint document with the GDC

    (b) Best Practices
    • Finalize the competitions and guidelines for skills tests (with possible examples/templates for companies to use)
    • Develop best practice document for educators introducing competitions into the classroom
    • Consider additional other resources/guidelines for other areas of design with ethical implications, ie. sustainable graphic design, cultural appropriation

    (c) Advocacy
    • Promote new competition guidelines; identify opportunities to distribute these and our spec policy
    • Review and update our spec policy document/resources
    • Review and update our internship guidelines – consider advocacy initiative related to this
  • Code of Ethics

    Registered Graphic Designers (RGDs) are committed to the highest professional and ethical standards. RGD has collaborated with the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) and Société des designers graphiques du Québec (SDGQ) to create a unified Code of Ethics. The Committee reviews and updates the Code of Ethics portion of the RGD Certification Online Test as needed.


    Advocacy against Spec

    The Committee combats requests for spec and crowdsourcing of design by communicating best practices to clients and providing resources such as to designers so they can understand and address various scenarios when they are asked to do work for free.


    Ethical Best Practices & Advocacy

    The Committee works to develop resources and guidelines, and advocates for best practices in the areas of accessible design, sustainable design, salaries and billing, pro bono work, internships, best practices for design contests and other areas of design with ethical implications.

  • Craig Swistun RGD, Toronto

    Craig has been a partner in a design firm, a sole proprietor and has extensive experience leading in-house design teams inside large corporations. He has been a presenter at numerous design conferences and has written extensively on the business of graphic design for a number of publications.


  • Presented by Jenn Taback RGD; VP of Ethics, Committee Chair at RGD's AGM on April 18, 2020


    The Ethics Committee was created with a mandate that includes revising RGD’s Rules of Professional Conduct as needed, advising on ethical issues and advocating against spec work.


    The Committee worked incredibly hard in the last year alongside RGD staff to accomplish several projects that we hope will make designers' jobs easier to navigate and provide increased professionalism to the industry on all levels nation-wide.


    For a while, RGD has being attempting to work towards achieving a cohesive, joined approach to certification across Canada with other graphic design associations. Stüssy, Hilary and others have diplomatically managed this situation for quite some time, and this year the RGD, the GDC, and SDGQ now all follow the same Code of Ethics. The GDC will also be following RGD’s examination and accreditation process to create a national standard of professionalism.


    We got many projects accomplished in the last year, in huge part due to Rebecca Dudgeon at RGD. She has been helping the Committee by reviewing spec requests, creating responses, providing resources and reviewing our projects and meetings. We could not have done half of what we did without her work on the Committee’s behalf.


    In November we revised the Code of Ethics questions on the Online Test, a project that Ania had volunteered to review in the summer of 2019.


    I helped design and layout the Competition Guidelines that was put together by the staff and Ethics Committee. It will be updated again this year now that we have had feedback on the first version and it can be accessed on the RGD website. It is a document that provides information and alternatives for companies and organizations who want to run a competition for logos and other design work. RGD receives many complaints of these as spec, but we had no documents or resources to provide them with alternatives.


    The Ethics Committee is on Slack with its own channel. Caitlin and Amy have been working on creating a folder full of resources and a content calendar for it as well. RGDs can ask us questions and look for help from others in the channel. Everyone is encouraged and welcome to add their input and expertise.


    Craig took on the task of reviewing the Internship Guidelines for us that had been online for sometime. After his review, the Committee did not make any changes based on his recommendations.


    Chelsey put together a No Spec initiative for our social media accounts that she has been working on. RGD’s Creative Director is working on finalizing the graphics.


    RGD has been thinking about how to expand our resources for sustainability and Caitlin and Amy took on the task of making guidelines for RGDs looking to incorporate best practices into their work and office. It is an easy to read guide with valuable tips that cover physical spaces and digital work. It will be on the website very shortly.


    Our 2020/2021 Goals include:

    Our Committee is doing well and we have full compliment of RGDs who are actively working on the following projects that we hope will be active in the coming months.


    1. Skills Testing
    Evelyn and Kevin have been putting together a Guide that will help employers determine when it is best to administer a skills test when hiring. They are also creating a guide for best practices when making and administering the test along with sample test scenarios.

    We hope this will give clarity and confidence to employers and potential hires to know what could be expected of them. It will also provide a guide to give those who have emailed us for help on the matter.


    2. Competition Guidelines for Schools/Educators
    Wendy has been working on a quick reference guide to help schools and educators deal with class projects and competitions with real clients. It outlines the benefits and best practices for students, educators and organizations. We know schools are one of the first places many organizations look to for pro-bono or free work and we wanted to give them resources to know what best to work on.


    3. Resources for Cultural Awareness
    Hilary and I met with a representative from Indigenous Services Canada based on them seeing cultural appropriation being covered in our Code of Ethics. We have felt for sometime that this area could be better developed and we are hoping to expand on a webinar I coordinated in February.


    4. In-House Spec Initiative
    Ania has been reviewing some RGD documents such as the spec policy, Code of Ethics and Competition Guidelines from the perspective of an in-house designer. We’d like to make a package of documents that in-house designers can reference on ethical issues, especially spec, when they come up internally in their organizations.

    I would like to thank all of our Committee Members for their work over the past year:

    • Amy Eaton RGD
    • Ania Czupajlo RGD
    • Caitlin Legere Prov. RGD
    • Chelsey Stuart-Duval
    • Craig Swistun RGD
    • Crispin Bailey RGD
    • Evelyn Csiszar RGD
    • Ian Chalmers RGD
    • Kevin Moran RGD
    • Logan Brazeau Prov. RGD
    • Mel Sutjiadi RGD
    • Reesa Del Duca RGD
    • Samantha Cox
    • Wendy Gray RGD


    And thanking those members who have stepped down: Laura Sellors RGD, Rod Nash RGD Emeritus and Stüssy Tschudin RGD


    I want to give a special thanks to Wendy Gray who stepped up while I was on leave and we have greatly appreciated her insight and work on the Committee.


    Lastly I’d like to mention Emma McAllister’s passing this year. She stepped down from the committee in June 2019 and offered a great deal of insight over the years to the Ethic’s Committee, helping to develop and refine many of the finer points we have.

  • Presented on video by Jenn Taback, VP of Ethics & Chair of the Ethics Committee


    The Ethics Committee was created with a mandate that includes revising RGD’s Rules of Professional Conduct as needed; advising on ethical issues and advocating against spec work.


    The focus of the Committee in the last year has been to raise awareness and take action against requests for spec, which builds on our last year goal of being more proactive when it comes to educating designers and public on the topic. More and more we see that those in our community are questioning free work and competitions, and looking for alternative approaches. Students have been especially active in questioning the work that is requested of them from private organizations.


    During the last year we completed a few initiatives that have helped RGD develop best practices and encourage designers to consider more ethical implications of working. The Committee completed the finalized PDF on the Competition Guidelines, a document that provides advice and alternatives for organizations seeking to run design contests which is now available on the RGD website.


    Last April, members raised objections to the Proposed Policies under 4.1.3 Human Rights. The Board has decided to table amending the By-Law and have the Committee conduct a review, along with an audit of similar cultural appropriation policies in anticipation of updating the policy. With the help of Emma McAllister, the committee rewrote the policy and it was approved by the board as more reflective of RGDs mandate.


    For the last 12 months the committee has been working with GDC on aligning our Codes of Conduct so that the certification process will be less confusing and unified. Originally there was only about 20% of the documents to adjusted, which was approved by the Board and is set to be ratified at this AGM. The GDC will be seeking to approve it at their own June AGM.


    As always we continue to address specific spec situations as they are brought to our attention. With the newly created resources, RGD staff have been able to provide quicker turn around on letters to organizations and provide more pro-active solutions that we’ll be able to monitor in the coming months.


    Our 2019/2020 Goals Include:


    1. Expanding on our Rules of Professional Conduct/Code of Conduct by developing resources and strategies to promote the new joint document with the GDC.


    2. Continuing to develop Best Practices documents such as finalizing the competitions and guidelines for skills tests (with possible examples/templates for companies to use). We are also working on developing a best practice document for educators introducing competitions into the classroom. And are continuing to create additional resources/guidelines for other areas of design with ethical implications such as sustainable graphic design and cultural appropriation.


    3. Continuing our Advocacy efforts by promoting the new competition guidelines and identifying opportunities to distribute these and our spec policy. We will be reviewing and updating our spec policy document/resources as well as updating our internship guidelines.



    I would like to thank all of our Committee Members for their work over the past year: Caitlin Legere Provisional RGD; Kevin Moran RGD; Rod Nash RGD; Logan Brazeau Provisional RGD; Evelyn Csiszar RGD; Wendy Gray RGD; Craig Swistun RGD; Stüssy Tschudin; Emma McAllister RGD Emeritus; Laura Sellors RGD. And a special welcome to our newest Member: Ania Czupajlo RGD. And thank you to John Furneaux RGD who stepped down this year.


  • Presented by Jennifer Taback RGD at RGD's AGM on April 25, 2018


    The Ethics Committee was created with a mandate that includes revising RGD’s Rules of Professional Conduct as needed; advising on ethical issues and advocating against spec work.


    The focus of the Committee in the last year has been to continue to lobby against requests for spec and be proactive in our approach to educating both designers and the public on the topic. This was consistent with our goals last year and originated out of a need to create awareness with students who might not be familiar with what spec work is and the dangers of it.


    We expanded on this to explain the differences between spec work and pro bono and how designers can effectively donate their time to meaningful causes. The Ethics Committee updates our 'A Graphic Designer's Guide to Pro Bono Work' to assist designers in the process of working with non-profit organizations on pro bono communications projects. It is available on the RGD website as a PDF download and gives designers information on the benefits of pro bono, how to select a client to work with, the challenges, quotes from current RGDs, and additional resources. 


    We continue to see success in addressing specific spec situations and find that a majority of complaints from designers tend to be much more minor than in previous years, save for those that are issued from municipalities. These continue to be the most harmful, especially to local designers.


    One example was the City of Guelph, which held a contest for the design of graphics to be painted on their water tower. In this case, two designs were submitted to the public for a vote, with a voting option of selecting neither. Out of a total of 2,546 votes, the majority—38 per cent—voted in favour of not displaying either of the final designs on the water tower. This is certainly an outcome that we can use as an example of why not to do spec contests when we are called up to advocate in the future.


    Another area of focus for our Committee was a thorough review of our current Rules of Professional Conduct to ensure they remain relevant and in keeping with current industry and overall business best practices. A number of the Committee’s recommendations, including the addition of Rules related to diversity and respectfulness in the workplace. Further work by the Committee on the Rules will consider the issue of cultural appropriation in the hopes of developing a new policy or best practice that is respectful of cultures without coming into conflict with the important principle of freedom of speech.


    In recent months, Committee Members have been examining the similarities and differences between the RGD Rules of Professional Conduct and the GDC Codes of conduct as part of our goal to align our two certification process. I’m pleased to report that the two documents share many commonalities and very few differences, these being more to the structure of the two documents than anything. We will be reviewing our findings with the GDC over the coming weeks with the goal of creating one unified document.


    A goal for the coming year is to develop competition guidelines that will focus on contests aimed at the general public to design a logo or related items. This document will be especially directed at government administrators, offering them arguments for why they shouldn’t organize design contests and suggesting alternatives that still offer opportunities for community engagement and involvement.


    I would like to thank all of our Committee Members for their work over the past year: Jenny Bowman Provisional RGD, John Furneaux RGD, Evelyn Cziszar RGD, Rod Nash RGD, Craig Swistun RGD, Stüssy Tschudin RGD, Julia Linda Wells RGD as well as our newest members Laura Sellors RGD and Wendy Gray RGD, and Nicholas di Cuia RGD and Ashley Smithers RGD who both recently stepped down from the Committee.

  • Criteria:

    • Interest in and understanding of RGD’s Rules of Professional Conduct.
    • Interest in and understanding of the ethical issues being faced in the industry, including with educational institutions, with clients, within in-house departments and within design firms.
    • Time to contribute to the work of the committee via email feedback, teleconference discussions and independent and group work.
    • Must be a Certified RGDProvisional RGD or Affiliate Member (Affiliates can serve for up to 1 year, during which time they are required to become Certified if they wish to remain on a Committee.)


    Get Involved:

    • Those interested in joining the Committee should fill out the online form: Get Involved with RGD.
    • Click here for a list of initiatives and other ways to get involved with the Committee's activities