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Atlassian dumps diversity for balance

Software giant Atlassian has dumped diversity from its corporate lingo as it moves toward a workforce defined by more than gender and race.

The Australian company says it is moving "beyond diversity" to build balanced teams where all workers feel a sense of belonging.

"It's not about how many people of a specific demographic are represented ... it's about balancing perspectives across teams," Atlassian said in a report on Thursday.

It says the highest-performing teams included people with diverse perspectives and ways of problem-solving.

But it must think "beyond defining diversity in terms of gender and race".

Aubrey Blanche has used the phrase "diversity fatigue" to explain the frustration people feel at the all-talk, no action towards what appears to be an insurmountable issue.

Atlassian's global head of diversity and belonging says people have come to associate the word diversity with only minority groups.

"When you tell people you're trying to diversify the workforce, you're saying people from a majority group don't count and you're trying to build a future without them," Ms Blanche told AAP on Thursday.

"People from majority groups are part of diversity, there are imbalances but they can go both ways," she said.

"You can have a team where the majority are women - that's an imbalance."

According to Atlassian's latest employment data, men make up the majority of the company's managers in IT, marketing, customer support and software while women dominate in HR and finance.

Atlassian boosted the number of women hired in leadership roles by less than one per cent to 27.1 per cent in the past year, putting it above average for senior management across all industries.

It also increased the proportion in technical roles from 14.6 to 17 per cent and grew its workforce over 40 from 19 to 22 per cent.

But among its US workforce, black and Latino men and women were under-represented in every area.

Ms Blanche denied the company was pandering to its white, male workforce by scrapping diversity targets.

"Not at all to be totally honest. It's not about pandering, it's about being authentic."

When people think diversity they think only gender and race, she said.

"We're moving into intersectionality; an employee may be a male but he's a person of colour, he may have a disability."

Atlassian's long-term goals are for its offices to reflect the communities in which they operate, Ms Blanche says.

"Internally, we hold ourselves accountable to a variety of targets for hiring, retaining, and growing people from underrepresented groups while broadening the conversation to include categories like mental health, parental status and more."

But diversity as a target had become inherently divisive, she argued, slowing progress.

"What we actually do is cause even folks who are the best intentioned, when we alienate them with language, we divide on things we're actually united on."

"Belonging is something our employees can value and they can help push it forward."

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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