Toolkit that helps multidisciplinary teams define the ethical guidelines of their engagement. Developed by Samantha Dempsey and Ciara Taylor.
The Designer’s Oath is a year-long experiment exploring the ethics of designers between 2015 and 2016. We partnered with designers from disparate disciplines and backgrounds to understand and document how they see their responsibilities. We encouraged designers, clinicians, students and faculty to create collaborative Oaths that speak across design practices, project teams and organizations. After a year of outreach, conversations, and trial and error, we finally hit upon the real power of the Oath. It’s not about creating one oath for all design teams, and it’s not about the existence of the Oaths themselves; it’s about facilitating conversations! The Designer’s Oath has evolved into a tool that helps multidisciplinary teams define the ethical guidelines of their engagement.
The traditional boundaries of design are quickly expanding, and our code of ethics needs to be as flexible and easy to redefine as the process of design itself. The Designer’s Oath is a tool that we can apply to our own design processes to ensure that the end result does good.
Why do we need the Designer’s Oath?
Designers are responsible for creating more than ever before-not only designing products, but also experiences, environments, services and systems for millions of people. With this increased influence, we must take a step back and recognize the responsibility we have to those we design for. We can learn from other professions like healthcare where those who practice medicine acknowledge their responsibility by swearing to uphold the Hippocratic Oath. This binds them to a clearly defined set of rules that guide the ethics of their interactions with patients. Likewise, designers now have the ability to impact human health, so we each need a similar code of ethics to guide us.