The two main membership organisations for designers and design consultancies, the Chartered Society of Designers and the Design Business Association, both include in their respective codes of conduct the issue of pitching for work.
The DBA’s code of conduct includes the following clause: “Members should not take part in pitches which require unpaid work. The level of payment for pitches should relate to the time and effort involved.”
So have some DBA members broken this code? Undoubtedly, but chief executive Ian Rowland-Hill says: “The code says ‘should not’ rather than ‘will not’.” Have any members ever been thrown out for free-pitching? Rowland-Hill says no: “If they do free-pitch, it’s a commercial decision on their part. There are no sanctions the DBA wants to take. Whether or not we are able, or even want, to move to a point where we can enforce these points remains to be seen. The code of conduct is an ideal to be strived for.”
The CSD’s code of conduct includes the following: “To assist a prospective client to choose a designer, a member may present orally or in writing the following information relating to a
proposed project: (a) an understanding of the brief; (b) examples of the member’s previous work; (c) details of how the member would undertake the project; (d) an estimate of fees and timescale.”
So the CSD’s code of conduct implies, by omission, that members should not free-pitch. So have any? Almost certainly.
Last October CSD president Stefan Zachary threatened to use the CSD’s “full set of teeth” if necessary on any errant members. Has that happened? CSD director Brian Lymbery was unavailable to answer that question.