GoodUp - confirmation bias - purpose

Are we falling for confirmation bias?

Paul

by Paul van Schie

Over the past weeks we’ve shared a lot about the sudden rise of corporate volunteering and the embracement of (employee) activism, as well as how our coping mechanisms fuel this rise.

Society is being tested with 3 crises in a row, but companies and governments are still expected to think long term. Is the world really changing for the better? Is the purpose economy accelerating? A critical voice in our heads hasn’t stopped nagging us with the following question lately. Its repeating phrase triggered the search that led to this weekly.

“Are we falling for confirmation bias?”

Confirmation bias

Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information that confirms or supports one’s prior personal beliefs or values.

When we look at facts, we look at them through the lens of our own beliefs. The bias is strongest for emotionally charged issues or when we search for desired outcomes.

Hmm… Activism, diversion and inclusion, BLM, sustainability, purpose. Hardly themes that we can calmly state to be objective about.

Also, familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Famous psychologist Daniel Kahneman said that repeating a certain statement, leads to more people believing it. And we’ve been preaching purpose for a while now.

We feel that the purpose economy is now established and is accelerating. Our claim is supported by so many individuals. CEO of Sustainable Brands KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz, for example, said:

“From the early days of Sustainable Brands, what we wanted to facilitate is a change in the conversation about sustainability: away from responsibility and into opportunity. […] 2017 Really was the turning point, where people stopped talking about how can we do less bad to how can we innovate.”

It has become clear that companies that are using purpose and sustainability as their North Star outrank ‘profit first businesses’. But despite the fact that everyone has seen companies and people take action, despite sustainability and purpose practices being clear differentiators for attracting and retaining talent… are we falling for confirmation bias?

We hope to not disappoint you with the answer that there’s no answer to that question, really. Only the future will tell. There’s optimists, pessimists, and people going back and forth in the sustainability and purpose sphere. We choose to be optimistic, as we feel that optimism drives and accelerates positive action towards the purpose that we all share: maintaining a habitable planet for human kind.

Want to learn more? Here are three relevant articles on the topic:

Consumer expectations for business to act are high

According to Edelman’s well-known trust barometer, seventy-eight percent of consumers expect business to act to protect employees and the local community. Seventy-nine percent expect business to adapt its operations, including remote working, cancelling non-essential events and business travel bans. Business is counted upon (73 percent) to adapt its HR policies, to give paid sick leave or prevent at-risk employees from coming to work, among other things.

Negative implications of COVID-19 for the Environment and Sustainability

This sobering research report uncovers some of the negative implications of Covid on the environment.

  • Rapid increase in medical waste.
  • Municipal waste streams in cities will experience a surge in the volume of disposables, increases in use of single-use plastic bags, containers and utensils, and disruption of normal waste management systems due to safety concerns and lockdowns.

China expands coal plant capacity to boost post-virus economy

Also, in this (Dutch) podcasts, sustainability reporter Jelmer Mommers points out that China is approving plans for new coal power plant capacity at the fastest rate since 2015. We also found this article on Financial Times about this topic.

How are purpose and sustainability in business holding up?

This Greenbiz article lists the views of 7 business leaders about the impact of Covid on sustainability. As is to be expected, their views highlight and promote sustainable behaviour from companies. Still, the article provides nice insights on the latest sustainable efforts at these brands.