Canva’s Melanie Perkins calls on business leaders to “take bold action” on COVID-19

Canva founder and chief Melanie Perkins

Canva co-founder Melanie Perkins. Source: supplied.

Canva founder Melanie Perkins is leading the cry for a group of Australian startup founders and business leaders calling on their peers to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

Posted on Medium by Perkins, the open letter is signed by her co-founders Cliff Obrecht and Cameron Adams; Atlassian co-founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes; Safety Culture’s Luke Anear; Culture Amp’s Didier Elzinga; and the partners of VC firm Blackbird.

At last count, a Canva spokesperson tells SmartCompany more than 200 people had signed the pledge.

The letter follows a similar initiative from chief executives and leaders in the US. A coalition of more than 500 leaders encouraged others to “take bold action” in a bid to stem the spread of the virus. As of Monday, that pledge had been signed by more than 1,300 people.

Perkins says she hopes the Aussie sector can mobilise in a similar way, inviting “bold business leaders” to sign the pledge, and to invite friends, family and colleagues to as well.

“As business leaders, we have a social responsibility and moral obligation to work in cohesion with our government,” the founder writes.

“We’ve been impressed to see the stance US business leaders have already taken … and would like to affirm Australia’s commitment to boldly do the same.”

First and foremost, Perkins and the Aussie coalition ask other businesses to commit to social distancing.

Perkins suggests making working from home mandatory, and discouraging unnecessary travel, both internationally and domestically.

She also asks leaders to commit to self-isolation, and to ask their employees to do the same.

“Postpone events and ask employees to stop attending voluntary/social public events of ANY size,” the letter says.

The letter calls on businesses to continue to support their contractors and casual staff, if it’s within their means.

“A lot of people will be facing significant hardship; if your business has the financial capacity to continue to support your team, this is the time to do so,” Perkins says.

“Every little bit counts.”

And, she recommends choosing to support local businesses “wherever possible”, whether that’s online or offline.

Outside of the office, the letter urges people to work together to stop panic buying, refrain from sharing misinformation, and relieve pressure on essential services and particularly on healthcare workers.

Finally, Perkins calls on leaders to be kind.

“Treat one another kindly in this stressful time, and stand up against any discriminatory behaviour,” the letter says.

This open letter comes at a time when Canva’s business is reportedly booming. The Aussie unicorn’s latest financial report showed it recorded revenues of $86.3 million for its Australian entity for 2018, a 118% increase on the previous year.

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