Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder and co-CEO of Atlassian, says Australia must face up to its own racism. He was speaking out in the wake of the anti-racism protests engulfing the US.
The boss of the digital business heavyweight was writing in an Atlassian company announcement on Wednesday. In it, Cannon-Brookes expressed “solidarity in the fight against the oppression of Black people”.
“As I’m watching the unfolding scenes of unrest and violence in the U.S., my heart breaks,” he said.
“The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor represent the deeply institutionalised racial prejudice and injustice that still exists in communities all over the world today. Including in my own backyard, with the continued structural marginalisation of indigenous people in Australia.”
Mike Cannon-Brookes said he was angry at racial injustice. He said he had to “say Black Lives Matter” and to “not walk past silently in acceptance,” especially given his a position of “privilege”.
“I have a responsibility to speak out,” he said.
Anti-racism protests will continue until there is change
The Atlassian boss urged people to unite against racism. While conceding there was no quick fix, he warned that protests like the ones unfolding in America are inevitable until change occurs.
“We should continue to expect unrest until governments and companies (including ours) are held accountable in upholding equality and justice, he wrote.
“And as this unrest grows more loud, more violent, and more painful, we need to do own our part in creating a more just and equitable world. Anything less would be complicit and complacent.”
Mike Cannon-Brookes admits Atlassian can do better
Mike Cannon-Brookes went on to highlight criminal justice as a focus area for reform. He also argued that inequality was widening, and that current business and government models “are not addressing the reality that most of our communities experience today.”
The Atlassian boss said his fellow CEO and founder, Scott Faquhar, were committed to doing more to hire and retain underrepresented minorities. He also said the company must be open about where it can improve.
“We cannot let racism perforate our society any longer. Change comes from our voices,” he said.