Atlassian says 'Don't #@!% the Planet' so it can keep making money

Which when you think about it, is a pretty good reason to build a sustainable business

Australian software house Atlassian has decided to share its sustainability practices in a booklet titled Don't #@!% the Planet*.

Atlassian's plan is to reduce 90 percent of its emissions by 2040 and use carbon offsets to address the rest. The document is billed as "Stories, pointers, and lessons learned on our journey to a net-zero future" and explains how Atlassian intends to reach its goals and help you define and meet yours.

The company started with the premise that "long-term prospects as a business rely on a functioning planet." Oh, and it also discovered that its investors, employees, and customers expected it to develop a sustainability plan.

The dev ops darling has emphasized working with suppliers, which it says account for 99 percent of its emissions. The document asserts that Atlassian has managed to engage with sufficient numbers of suppliers and is satisfied their emission reduction plans will match its own. But it doesn't trust them entirely so has engaged a consultancy to understand suppliers' emissions reductions goals, monitor their activity, and adjust accordingly.

Some of these Scope 3 emissions are hard to tackle: the document explains that Atlassian sees a need for staff travel, especially now that it allows full remote work.

"It may very well turn out that gathering in person with our teams a few times a year is critical to building strong working relationships, maintaining our culture, and collaborating effectively," the document states.

"There aren't a lot of solutions here today besides restricting a percentage of employee travel, which isn't a great option when so many teammates haven't spent time together in years (or at all).

"Travel is a prime example of the questions we don't have answers to, but we're working with our teams to create new solutions."

To cover Scope 2 emissions – those created by consumed energy – Atlassian signed up to acquire energy generated by renewable sources. Inhabiting energy-efficient buildings helps to address Scope 1 emissions, those an organization creates directly.

The company says it learned three lessons when formulating its plans and getting executive sign-off.

One was to talk risks instead of opportunities. "We made a misstep in making our case by playing up the risks of inaction and threat to our business. That didn't work well. Instead, focusing on the opportunity and inspiring our leaders was a much easier path to get them on board," the document states.

Another was that winning grassroots support matters. "You can get the executives on board, but the people actually doing the work have to be just as invested in the outcome as you are."

The last was: "If it feels uncomfortable, you're at the right level of ambition."

Atlassian is no stranger to salty language and informal communications. Its stated values include "Open company, no bullshit" and "Don't #@!% the customer." It publishes rambling shareholder letters peppered with emojis and Australian slang, signed off by "Mike and Scott" – co-founders and co-CEOs Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar.

Which is not to say the company is always jolly and nice. Shortly after suggesting rivals' layoffs would ease its own recruitment challenges, Atlassian shed 500 staff by email on 15 minutes warning. ®

*That's Atlassian's Grawlix, not The Register's. We're not afraid to swear – but know to do so sparingly, and for maximum impact.

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