Why communities matter when you are in business

Big Sleep Out Logo

Folks, I have a confession and it’s one I reckon many of us may share.  How many of you have walked past a homeless person on the street and not given their well-being a second thought?  I know I have. In fact I have mastered that slightly awkward forward looking gaze, that allows you to look right through something (or someone) you don’t want to see.

My prejudices are ingrained, if I do “notice” a homeless person seeking support or a buck, I instantly form a judgement based on stereotypes that somehow that person is “lazy” and “not trying hard enough” to support themselves.  Having been brought up in a loving family and been afforded a great education, I’ve been taught the importance of “working hard” and have been equipped with the skills and motivation to find my way in the world.  And perhaps that’s key here — I have had the good fortune to have a loving family, a great education and the opportunities to do well.  I guess it’s easy in my little “bubble” to forget that not everyone is as lucky as me.

In fact, what I have recently learned from the folks at LIFEWISE, a local not-for-profit organisation who support vulnerable and at risk people, is that anyone is potentially only 3 devastating events away from being homeless. A sobering thought – particularly in tough economic times.

Why my sudden interest in the cause of the homeless?  Well in 2011, my fellow Pulse blogger and social entrepreneur Melina Schamroth hit me and MYOB up for a donation to sponsor her participation in The Big Sleep Out.  The annual event, brings together a group of community and business leaders to sleep rough for a night to raise money and learn first-hand what it is like to be homeless, if only for a night. The ultimate goal is to raise awareness and funds to help end homelessness.  You can watch a 2 minute video to learn more about it here.

So, what has this got to do with business, you may well be asking?  I’m often talking with the media and the Government about the importance of supporting local businesses. What we are always seeking to communicate is that when a local business does well, local communities benefit from increased employment and investment.  But it is, of course, a two way street – businesses also need effective well-functioning local communities to be successful.  They need customers, staff, premises and an environment that supports their enterprise.  In business we need happy, healthy local communities to thrive. And community in which everyone does well – which offers opportunity for everyone at every level – is the kind of healthy community that supports growing business.

And that’s why, this year, I’ll be joining Melina and host of other folks on 28 June 2012 for the next Big Sleep Out.   It promises to be uncomfortable and cold, but it’s all in the name of ending homelessness in Auckland and that’s something I know will support the community.

So before I dust off my cardboard mattress for a night of wintery discomfort, I’m asking you to show your support by sponsoring my efforts.  By sponsoring me you will be using your wallet to make a stand against homelessness, and helping support the wider community.  MYOB is putting its money where my mouth is and will match dollar for dollar any funds I raise.  So please, visit my fundraising page here and sponsor me today.

I’d love to have your backing.


| General Manager – MYOB