Why Atlassian’s Aubrey Blanche left one Aussie unicorn for another

Aubrey Blanche

Aubrey Blanche, new global head of equitable design and impact at Culture Amp. Source: supplied.

Atlassian’s global head of diversity and belonging has left the role to join Aussie ‘larrikin unicorn’ Culture Amp as global head of equitable design and impact.

In a blog about the appointment, Blanche said she has been working for five years “to help the tech industry become the meritocracy it’s long believed itself to be”.

However, despite heads of diversity hired and chief executives pledging to incorporate inclusivity initiatives, the industry is still facing ‘diversity fatigue’, she said.

“Few companies have meaningfully moved the needle.”

The appointment at Culture Amp will allow Blanche to work on a product aligned with her passions and philosophies, she said.

“I wanted to get deeply involved in the messy (and fun!) work of building, and work for values-aligned leaders that have a vision for what culture can do for an organization.

“I wanted to be in a space that was constantly changing so that I could never get bored or stop learning new things. And I really, really didn’t want to give up the incredible food in Australia.”

On Twitter, the news has been met with celebration, with big names in the Aussie tech space calling the hire “amazing” and “major”, and generally singing Blanche’s praises.

Founded in 2009, Culture Amp provides businesses with employee feedback technology, in a bid to improve communication in enterprises and provide better outcomes for employees.

In September last year, the Aussie startup raised $120 million in a round led by Sequoia Capital — also a Culture Amp customer — giving it a valuation of $1.04 billion.

Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar are also investors — Cannon-Brookes through his venture fund Grok Ventures, and Farquhar though Skip Capital, the fund he runs with wife Kim Jackson.

In a statement, Culture Amp co-founder and chief Didier Elzinga said the work Blanche was doing at Atlassian “was pivotal to a lot of the change we were wanting to help drive across the industry”.

Blanche was the one who argued the role should not be ‘head of diversity and inclusion’, Elzinga said.

“I also challenged her to push me on how I thought about certain things because I think the relationship between us is critical,” he added.

“I can’t just be a cheerleader from the sides, I need to be willing to stretch and expand my own view of the world and learn from my mistakes.”

Blanche said in a statement she is “beyond excited” to join Culture Amp.

“We know that equitable workplaces are happier, more innovative, and more financially sustainable,” she said.

“For too long, businesses have chosen to tolerate culture that doesn’t work for everyone, and while that’s never been acceptable, employee and consumer expectations are changing.

“It’s possible to design workplaces that help people be the best versions of themselves and do the right thing, which is going to be a business advantage as we move into the future of work.”

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