‘Don’t @#$% the Planet’: Atlassian co-opts its famed motto for climate change

- September 3, 2019 2 MIN READ
Atlassian, Mike Cannon-Brookes, Scott Farquhar.

Atlassian co-founders and co-CEOs Mike Cannon-Brooke and Scott Farquhar.

Australian software giant Atlassian will give staff a day’s paid leave later this month if they want to take part in a global climate strike being organised by student activists.

Mike Cannon-Brookes, the Nasdaq-listed startup’s co-founder and co-CEO has also enlisted the company’s famed motto: “Don’t @#$% the Customer” in the message as part of the Not Business As Usual campaign, an alliance of Australian and global startups and corporations supporting employees who want to take part in the protest ahead of a UN climate summit on September 23.

Atlassian employees will be able to use part of the company’s paid week-long special volunteering leave to take part in the protests.

Cannon-Brookes has become increasingly outspoken on climate change and social issues in recent years as Atlassian grew to become of the nation’s biggest companies, with a market cap of $50 billion. He believes global warming is now an “existential threat” to the economy and is critical of the federal government’s lack of action on the issue, saying it has “no credible climate policy” when it should be a huge economic opportunity for Australia.

“At Atlassian, one of our core values is ‘Don’t @#$% the Customer’. This year, we’re taking that a step further with ‘Don’t @#$% the Planet’,” he said.

“It’s been awesome to watch the next generation lead the way on climate action. Greta Thunberg started a movement that spread around the world. Tens of thousands of schoolkids joined the cause and turned out in force at a series of school strikes.

“Now, we want Atlassians to have the opportunity to add their voices, if they choose. It would be amazing to see other companies join us and support their people to join the Climate Strike.”

Cannon-Brookes said the support for Not Business as Usual was part of a staff-driven initiative and the company was supporting them.

Speaking to ABC Radio’s AM program, he said the stance Atlassian was taking was large part of corporate social responsibility, pointing out that even RBA governor Philip Lowe had pointed out the dangers of climate change to the broader economy.

“From a purely capitalist, dollars and cents point of view, a lot of Australian companies have issues they need to work out here,” he said.

Cannon-Brookes said investors were supportive of the company’s stand and climate change is “an existential challenge at a global level” for corporations.

More than a dozen Australian companies and organisations have signed up to Not Business As Usual, including Future Super, KeepCup, Spaceship, Amber, Tech Sydney, Startmate and Code Barrel.

Simon Sheikh, CEO and founder of Future Super the 100% fossil-free super fund, said the company will close its doors on September 20, the climate strike, but acknowledges that won’t suit every company.

“Businesses who support their employees will be sending out a powerful message that this is not business as usual,” he said.

“We need to put boots on the ground and help solve the climate crisis, and by coming together we all have the power to be part of the solution to solve the moral challenge of our generation.”