A Year in Review with BLACC, the Black ERG at Amplitude

Blake Jackson, founder of BLACC—Black Leaders at Amplitude Creating Change—reflects on 2021 and shares upcoming initiatives

Inside Amplitude
February 1, 2022
Image of Blake Jackson
Blake Jackson
Manager, Global Talent Initiatives, Amplitude
Logo for BLACC, the Black-focused ERG at Amplitude

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 looking back at what BLACC, our Black-focused ERG accomplished in 2021 and what they’re aspiring towards this coming year.

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, the Black employees of Amplitude formed Black Leaders at Amplitude Creating Change (BLACC), our first Black-focused employee resource group (ERG). BLACC’s mission is to create an inclusive environment, contribute diverse education on the experience of our members, and drive retention of Black technology leaders through awareness, engagement, and opportunity.

Our purpose is to build a community of support for one another as we bear witness to a number of historical events and shared collective trauma. Since our inception, BLACC has stepped forward to create programming and drive initiatives in service of our mission. DEI is not a zero-sum game, and we wanted to share what we accomplished in 2021 in the spirit of learning and inspiring one another.

BLACC in action

2021 was a year of firsts! In January, BLACC organized and hosted Amplitude’s company-wide all-hands meeting, the first time an ERG has held such a privilege. In addition to communicating company updates, we were able to share with our colleagues BLACC’s vision, mission, and initiatives across the entire organization.

Black History Month was BLACC’s unofficial kick-off, starting with our first-ever all Black panel discussion, featuring Black Ampliteers and discussing their journey into tech, their path to Amplitude, and their experience as a Black person in technology.

Learning about the Black experience should not be limited to only Black History Month. In March 2021, we invited Kevin Bethune, founder of dreams • design + life to present to participants of Amplitude’s Tech for Black Founders program and the Black employees at Amplitude. Black employees from our tech partners Branch, Braze, and mParticle also participated in this event. During his presentation, Kevin offered wisdom on what has helped him find success throughout his career. He also shared why technology companies, such as Amplitude, should be committed to diversity and inclusion, and encouraged the tenets of servant leadership.

Our efforts of sharing the history and contributions of Black people within Amplitude didn’t stop there. For the week of Juneteenth, we doubled down on our tech partnerships and demonstrated that we are partners beyond our tech stack. Together with our partners Branch and mParticle, we created a diverse slate of programming hosted across our three companies. On the first day of the program, sculptor Dana King kicked off the week by giving a riveting keynote on the history of Juneteenth and her work, Monumental Reckoning, which was unveiled in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

Day two of our Junteenth week featured a panel discussion moderated by mParticle on “Addressing and Embracing Imposter Syndrome” and featured employees from each organization. During this discussion, we explored the following question: “In an industry that consistently has a difficult time attracting, nurturing, and promoting people of color, what can companies do to cultivate meaningful community, connection, and belonging?” This question challenged participants to dive deeper into how we perceive the contributions of people of color in the workplace.

On day three, Branch hosted a powerful and inspiring fireside chat with Virginia Walker about her journey into the C-Suite at a range of Silicon Valley startups and Fortune 500 firms. Her perspective allowed us to prepare for the discussion on day four, “Building Black Equity in Tech,” presented by Morgan Simon and DeVaris Brown. This discussion explored the ways that we can all accelerate the pace of change when it comes to Black equity in the technology industry, from the perspectives of a white investor and a Black founder.

Each of these discussions were eye-opening, informative, and reassuring that we are all in this together, be it as a Black employee or an ally; we have strength in numbers, and working together is a force multiplier to what we can accomplish.

We continued our year strong with various events for our members, which included trivia nights, a holiday gift exchange, and a memorable hot-sauce-making event! In addition, the number of Black Ampliteers increased by more than half in 2021. The company also donated more than $35,000 to Black Girls Code. As part of BLACC’s mission, it is important for us to impact the Black experience within Amplitude and foster a sense of inclusion and belonging, especially as the number of Black Ampliteers increased by more than half in 2021!

Amplitude's Black ERG hosted a hot-sauce-making event in 2021

BLACC to the Future, Part II

In addition to all of BLACC’s accomplishments this past year, Amplitude had a number of exciting milestones in 2021, including our direct listing to the Nasdaq in September. As we enter into 2022, BLACC’s focus is to build on what we had started beginning once again with Black History Month as we offer company-wide programs themed on Black heath and wellness throughout the month of February.

Below are some of the initiatives that we’re planning for this year’s Black History Month:

  • Nicole Dove, Business Information Security Officer at WarnerMedia, will moderate a global panel to explore a broader view of the Black experience, the implications and importance of mental health for Black employees, and how to bring the historical moments of the past year into the conversation.
  • We’re partnering with Transparent Collective, on an event featuring Black business leaders, investors, and founders to discuss what is happening in tech and mental health. Transparent Collective is a non-profit helping Black, Latinx, and womxn founders access the connections and resources they need to raise VC funding,
  • We continue to organize with our fellow Black ERGs at Branch, Braze, and mParticle. Executives from all four organizations will host workshops open to all the cross-company ERG members, giving the ERGs the opportunity to connect with and learn from the leaders of each other’s organizations.
  • Finally, to close things out with a bang, BLACC will partner with our Parents @ Amplitude ERG to host our first Family Movie Night, where we’ll watch The Great Debaters! In conjunction, we’ll be setting up a virtual fundraiser through Double Good to raise money for an organization focused on positively impacting and contributing to our communities, while delivering delicious gourmet popcorn to participating Ampliteers at their homes!

Continued change

BLACC continues to grow, learn and iterate. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished inside Amplitude and with our partner ERGs at other companies. We’ve also supported each other through unprecedented circumstances. We are excited to continue to do the work to elevate the experience of Black individuals at Amplitude and within the technology community and look forward to continuing to contribute towards meaningful 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.

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