Executives to hit the streets with The Big Issue sellers in awareness drive

Over 70 executives from some of Australia’s biggest companies are set to hit the streets and sell copies of The Big Issue with vendors.

Among the executives taking part are Gilbert + Tobin managing partner Danny Gilbert, Allen & Overy senior partner Grant Fuzi and Allens chief operating officer Craig Wallace.

BHP Billiton chief executive Andrew Mackenzie and Telstra chief financial officer Andy Penn will also be involved.

Partners from Norton Rose Fulbright, Collins Biggers Paisley, Ashurst, Minter Ellison and Corrs Chambers Westgarth have also signed up for the task.

They will wear The Big Issue fluoro vest and spend half an hour on the streets with the vendors, selling the publication, with the proceeds going to the vendors.

The aim is to “shine the spotlight” on homelessness, and the initiative is part of International Street Paper Vendor Week which runs from February 3 to 9.

The Big Issue chief executive Steven Persson said, “We’re excited to have some of Australia’s leading business figures put their support behind this campaign.”

People’s Choice Credit Union executive general manager sales and distribution Daryl Bateman will be selling The Big Issue next Thursday in Light Square, Adelaide, from 8-9am.

Bateman told SmartCompany he expects it to be a “humbling experience”. He is spreading the word to his employees and is hoping “hundreds” will turn up to buy a copy to help raise money for the regular vendor.

He says the credit union is a proud sponsor of The Big Issue on an ongoing basis, and his team understand how important it is. They often play soccer with the vendors as part of a volunteering program.

As a busy executive he appreciates the chance next week to give “first hand support” to the cause “at the grass roots level”.

While this event is largely being supported by the big end of town, Bateman says the idea of getting behind charities or awareness-raising events can bring countless benefits to small businesses. He says “any size business can get involved in a volunteering programme” at a level that suits them.

“It brings a great sense of achievement to staff and it gives a deeper meaning to their work,” he says.

Late last year SmartCompany reported on the involvement of small business in supporting small community sports clubs, to foster relationships with the community.

SmartCompany also reported on small businesses getting behind charity cause Movember, which experts said gave a much-needed boost to workplace enthusiasm.

At the time The Physio Co chief executive and author of the Culture is Everything blog, Tristan White, said small businesses can get involved in smaller-scale events to great benefit.

“There are some rules and criteria around it… It’s really important for it to be appropriate for your business and fits with your business’s values and you need to keep it fresh,” he says.

“It needs to continue to add value to your culture, rather than being a drag for your company to be involved in. If you do the same thing every year it can get repetitive.”

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