How The One Brand is leading by example in the new world in which being an ethical, purpose-led business is fast becoming a must-have rather than a would-like-to-do.
One’s founder Duncan Goose says that it was always his ambition to make lots of money as a business owner, but only so that he could then give it away to a genuinely important cause. The cause is water – and the company’s mission is to provide as many people in the world as possible with that most essential ingredient for human life to thrive: clean drinking water. One does this through its charity, The One Foundation, which works with local partners in developing countries to develop the infrastructure for sustainable clean drinking water. Their aim now is to raise £20m to help do this by 2020 (the One Foundation has currently raised £17.4m).
It might sound more like a charity than a business, but Goose is very clear that The One Brand is a purpose-led company and it is this purpose that has helped to drive its commercial success. This is clearly worthy and ethical and great from the point of view of doing good in the world, but there is increasing evidence to suggest that all businesses should be heading down the purpose-led road. Goose says that:
‘The world is waking up to the fact that consumers want to buy from businesses that behave in a certain way and employees want to work for these companies too. The question, then, is not “should I be a purpose-led company?”, the question is “if I’m not doing it, why am I not doing it?” Every business is different and they need to find a way that resonates with them.’
It is a sentiment echoed by Laurence D. Fink, the founder and chief executive of one of the world’s biggest investment companies, Blackrock, who said that: ‘Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.’
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