A pledge is a personal promise. Research shows that people who sign a pledge are more likely to follow through with something than people who don’t. The purpose of a pledge being moving people into awareness and action. A pledge is an easy, formal promise that has been proven to change human behavior.
According to this same research public commitments work better than private ones and paper commitments work better than virtual ones. A combination of individual and group pledges is the most effective, so that people can hold each other accountable, while also taking personal responsibility. A public pledge is a social commitment. Public pledges work because they create social pressure.
Creating community around an issue through a network of people who have pledged commitment to an issue also increases the effectiveness of a pledge.
Pledges also work best when people are reminded of their commitment, hence the branding and the cohesive marketing.
And as always, a pledge is most effective in combination with other tactics, including the thorough consideration of and real and perceived barriers to the desired behavior.
The earlier the pledge is made the better, which is why this will work best for newer companies or companies that have not started yet. Social scientist Jon Elster said you can have up to an 80% probability of sticking to a commitment if you do it before the behavior begins. This is especially true in situations involving ethical behavior. It is harder to get someone to stop a behavior by signing a pledge than it is to get them to never do it in the first place.
Never stop trying to improve. Never stop examining your company culture and the ways in which you may be contributing to a toxic work environment. Always be open to change.
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