CommBank and Harvard collaborate to drive sustainable choices

ESG
02/04/2024 News

CommBank's Behavioral Science Center of Excellence, in partnership with Harvard's Sustainability Transparency Accountability Research (STAR) Lab, is dedicated to assisting Australian businesses and consumers in reducing their environmental impact. Recognizing the urgency of climate change, organizations worldwide are seeking innovative solutions. CommBank and Harvard's behavioral science unit are at the forefront of this effort, leveraging insights from behavioral science to promote sustainability.

Richard Thaler, a pioneer in behavioral science, emphasized the importance of nudging in addressing climate change. While nudging alone may not solve the issue, it is recognized as a valuable tool in influencing behavior towards sustainability.

Established in 2016, CommBank's behavioral science team has been instrumental in applying behavioral interventions to financial services. Now, the team is expanding its focus to include climate change, collaborating with various bank units to implement sustainable initiatives.

The partnership with Harvard STAR Lab, initiated in 2017, provides CommBank with valuable global research insights. Innovations like Benefits Finder, connecting customers to significant financial opportunities, have stemmed from this collaboration. The expanded partnership aims to integrate behavioral science into CommBank's digital platforms to deliver tailored information on sustainable options to customers.

At the recent Momentum sustainability conference, CommBank's Chief Behavioral Scientist, Will Mailer, discussed the role of behavioral science in facilitating sustainable choices. Professor Michael J. Hiscox from Harvard STAR Lab highlighted behavioral challenges in aligning intentions with actions, emphasizing the need for effective interventions.

Early research by CommBank indicates a gap between Australians' intentions and actions regarding climate change. Simple interventions, such as providing localized information, have shown promising results in increasing engagement.

The partnership with Harvard STAR Lab extends to fostering young researchers' involvement through initiatives like the BeSci Experimentation Hackathon. This event focused on climate change, with winning teams awarded grants to further research sustainable solutions for Australian homeowners.

As a leading retail bank in Australia, CommBank recognizes its role in promoting sustainability. Utilizing behavioral science interventions is one avenue through which the bank aims to support Australia's net-zero goals and create a more sustainable future for all.

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