Atlassian asserts reproductive rights of US-staff after bombshell Roe v. Wade ruling

Australian software giant responds to US Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade

Atlassian asserts reproductive rights of US-staff after bombshell Roe v. Wade ruling

Australian software company, Atlassian has responded to this weekend’s controversial US Supreme Court decision which overturned Roe v. Wade - by generously offering immediate financial assistance for their US-based staff (one-quarter of whom are women) to fly to US states where abortion will remain legal.

Atlassian’s statement was delivered on Twitter on Friday, 24 June only hours after the controversial Supreme Court ruling was handed down in the United States. Their statement said that “Today's decision by the Supreme Court not only strips away rights from women and pregnant people but puts their health and safety at risk.”

Atlassian’s billionaire co-founder and joint-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes tweeted his company’s “dismayed reaction” at the US Supreme Court’s decision which he felt undermined the reproductive healthcare rights of their US-based employees (a quarter of whom are women)Atlassian statement on Twitter, 24 June 2022

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Atlassian responded immediately to the Supreme Court decision by releasing a statement promising that:

“Starting today US employees living in states that have restricted or banned abortions will be offered reimbursement for travel and accommodations for themselves and a companion should they seek care outside their state”.

Atlassian is one of several million-dollar Australian companies with staff and workforces spread across the United States – including in states (such as Texas) where abortion is now illegal. Australian companies Canva, BigCommerce, BHP and Macquarie Group also have staff in the US and in places like Texas. It’s expected that this weekend’s controversial ruling overturning Roe v. Wade may have a ripple effect on other Australian firms with US-based staff keen to protect their staff’s reproductive rights.

What is Roe v. Wade?

Roe v. Wade was a landmark United States Supreme Court ruling made in 1973 [410 US. 113 (1973)]. In that decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that the American Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s right to have an abortion. The 1973 Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade simultaneously struck down many federal and state abortion laws and was seen as a landmark decision which protected women’s rights over their reproductive healthcare.

This weekend’s controversial reversal of Roe v. Wade essentially passes the legality of abortion from the federal and returns it to the states.

At the present time, abortion is legal in many states including California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Nevada and Florida. Abortion is currently illegal in five states, including Texas. After this controversial Supreme Court ruling, it’s expected that other states may follow suit.

About Atlassian

Atlassian is an Australian software company which develops a wide range of products for software development teams starting with their flagship product. They were founded in 2002 by two university friends, Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar who were studying information science. The co-CEO’s bootstrapped Atlassian into its current incarnation – which is a multi-million-dollar software developer offering a wide range of products most HR managers would be familiar with such as Jira, Confluence, Hipchat/Stride, Trello and Bamboo – among others.

Atlassian is legally incorporated in the United Kingdom. Their global headquarters are in Sydney and their US head office is in San Francisco. They have more than 8,000 US-based employees and a quarter of those are women – making their policy decisions around reproductive rights and healthcare so timely and relevant.

Atlassian and Roe v. Wade

Atlassian’s response to the US Supreme Court ruling was not without precedent. The company has previously demonstrated its commitment to corporate social responsibility and the wellbeing of its employees, both on its website and in public statements on this same issue.

As recently as September 2021, Atlassian spoke out against proposed new abortion laws in Texas which would make it illegal for a woman beyond six weeks of pregnancy to seek an abortion (in that state). At that time, Atlassian had around 700 US-based employees in their Austin, Texas office. Atlassian formally responded by delivering a public statement “Don’t Ban Equality in Texas” opposing the proposed changes to women’s reproductive rights in that state. Despite, their objections, the laws in Texas passed, making abortion illegal in that state.

In response to the current reversal of Roe v. Wade, Atlassian is offering financial support and assistance to their US-based staff to travel to states where pregnancy terminations can be performed safely and legally. In Atlassian’s statement on 24 June, co-founder and CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes announced that:

“Starting today US employees living in states that have restricted or banned abortions will be offered reimbursement for travel and accommodations for themselves and a companion should they seek care outside their state.”

Other big tech players in the United States have offered similar support to their staff including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, Starbucks, Tesla, Meta, Uber, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. Atlassian is the only Australian company out of this list to do so (so far), however. These tech companies were all criticised in the US by Republican commentators to taking such a stance.

Nonetheless, Atlassian CEO, Mike Cannon-Brookes, is standing his ground on this issue to ensure that their US-based employees are given sufficient financial support to travel to obtain a safe abortion, in accordance with their wishes and medical privacy.

Atlassian’s statement on Twitter, asserting the right of their staff to access “safe and legal reproductive healthcare” was greeted enthusiastically by their followers.

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