Looking Ahead with BLACC, the Black ERG at Amplitude

Blake Jackson, founder of BLACC—Black Leaders at Amplitude Creating Change—reflects on the creation, progress, and plans of the group.

Inside Amplitude
February 23, 2021
Image of Blake Jackson
Blake Jackson
Manager, Global Talent Initiatives, Amplitude
BLACC ERG – Black Leaders at Amplitude Creating Change

In 2020 Amplitude launched an organized network of Employee Resource Groups with the aim to promote connection, inclusivity, and belonging across teams and timezones.

To celebrate Black History Month, we are sharing the origins and vision of the ERG created by our Black Ampliteers.

BLACC History

In June of 2020 we formed our first ever Black ERG, Black Leaders at Amplitude Creating Change (BLACC). Our vision is to elevate the experience of Black individuals at Amplitude and within the technology community.

We formally requested to form the ERG exactly one week after the murder of George Floyd. At that moment, we were just looking to create a space for us to exist together.

What we learned was that employee resource groups bring many benefits to organizations, from recruitment to retention to education. They are a clear pathway for organizations to offer support to Black employees and a critical resource to inform organizations of what is and is not working for them. Valuing, supporting, and sustaining Black ERGs is a win-win.

We also learned that Amplitude is committed to:

  1. Making sure we have equity and resources to accomplish our goals;
  2. Being transparent and building trust with us as Black employees;
  3. Offering mental health support; and
  4. Providing formal validation from senior leadership.

That commitment from Amplitude empowers us to realize our mission, which is: to create an inclusive environment, contribute diverse education, and drive retention of Black technology leaders through awareness, engagement, and opportunity.

To realize our vision and mission we have three pillars, each with its own objectives.

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The three pillars of the BLACC ERG: realization, representation, and retention

2020 was a year when we simply discovered our strength in numbers. While we met biweekly, our agenda was constantly preempted by world events. Luckily, we had the space to discuss and process what was happening in the world and in our lives while supporting each other. It was a great place to start.

BLACC to the Future

While 2020 was used to build a supportive community within ERG, we knew we had the opportunity to lay the foundation for how this ERG would show up at such a critical time for our country and Black individuals around the world. Moving forward, the ERG will be focusing on four key areas as we all take this journey toward diversity, equity, and inclusion here at Amplitude.

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The four key areas of the BLACC ERG: awareness, create, engagement, retention

To elevate awareness, we will seek out new opportunities for Black employees to represent Amplitude at large-scale events. We will be hearing from Black employees at Amplitude and within the technology community at large about their experiences and how we can all do better to be better allies during this time of change.

The next focus area of our journey will be around our ability to create. We will be creating and sharing more stories about not only Black employees and their experiences, but also highlighting Black technologists of modern times, and from past decades and centuries as we share their stories and contributions to the advancement of technology.

The next phase in this journey will be around engagement. As a company, we partner with organizations like Black Girls Code and continue to offer Amplitude’s Growth plan for free to early stage startups led by one or more Black founders through the Tech for Black Founders program. This year we will also find new ways to show up in the communities with initiatives like mentorship, hackathons, and more active partnerships with historically black colleges and universities.

Last but not least, we will be focused on retention. We will seek new ways to uplift and serve our current and future Black employees here at Amplitude as they explore and grow their careers.

We look forward to this journey as an ERG and know that it will not be possible without the support and engagement of each and every Ampliteer. We are fortunate to have support from our executive leadership team. What does that support look like? Here are two examples:

BLACC Coffee

We’ve done a number of things to engineer culture at Amplitude. A favorite has been Coffee Buddies, a Slack integration that pairs up people subscribed to the #coffeebuddies channel for weekly coffee outings. While we work from home, we still maintain this program virtually.

Starting at a new company means leaving behind your previous network. Starting virtually adds an extra challenge to building a new one. To help our new ERG members onboard, we’ve created BLACC Coffee; a Coffee Buddies-type program that introduces new members to existing members biweekly as well as setting up an intro meeting with the executive leadership of their organization.

Research has shown how beneficial it is to establish social networks within the workplace. In his book, Work Rules!, Laszlo Bock shares that Google has found that one of the most common traits of their top performers is proactivity. As a structured program, BLACC Coffee helps Black employees build these internal networks from the start, and removes the burden of employees having to initiate these conversations on their own.

Also, according to a study by LeanIn.org, only 24 percent of Black women feel they have the sponsorship needed to advance in their careers. 41 percent say they have never had a substantive conversation with a senior leader about their work, and 59 percent say they’ve never had an informal interaction with a senior leader. Our aim with BLACC Coffee is to rectify that, as those relationships are key to future success within the company.

Mentorship Program

The BLACC ERG is piloting a mentorship program with the purpose of training and developing a highly talented employee group to take on higher levels of responsibility and leadership within Amplitude. This will provide opportunities for current and aspiring leaders to build relationships with the executive team and develop their skills as organization leaders by pairing mentees with the VPs and executives here at Amplitude.

By working with the BLACC ERG, the goal is to create a greater sense of inclusion for Black employees and to ultimately support the development of Black leadership at the company.

Creating Change

We are excited for the opportunity to continue to innovate and iterate on our programs and initiatives to effectively improve the lives of our Black employees and make an impact within the tech community. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is not a zero-sum game, and hopefully we can continue to share, inspire and learn from each other as we all progress on this journey to become better allies while creating lasting change.

Get Access to the Amplitude Growth Plan with the Tech for Black Founders initiative.

About the Author
Image of Blake Jackson
Blake Jackson
Manager, Global Talent Initiatives, Amplitude
Blake Jackson is the Manager of Global Talent Initiatives and Early-Career Programs at Amplitude. He is overseeing Amplitude’s employer branding, recruiting operations, talent sourcing, and university recruiting efforts. He is the Founder of the BLACC employee resource group and an Amplitude Star Wars trivia champion.