Nikki Lasley is the Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Amplitude, a company dedicated to optimising the business value of digital product innovation. She spoke to Business & Finance Deputy Editor David Monaghan to discuss Amplitude, her role at the company, and how she strives to use technology for good in her day-to-day work.
Note: This piece was originally published in Business & Finance magazine, vol. 59, no. 3, available to read, with compliments, here.
Nikki Lasley is the first ever Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Amplitude, a company dedicated to optimising the business value of digital product innovation. This entails helping leaders understand how users are interfacing with their products and what products are driving businesses forward.
Her work centres on creating a sense of community and carving a space for everyone at the product analytics provider. Prior to her appointment to the role, she was Vice President of DEI at Bank of the West, and has a proven track record in the realm of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Lasley spoke to Business & Finance Deputy Editor David Monaghan to discuss Amplitude, her role at the company, and how she strives to use technology for good in her day-to-day work.
Tech for Good
“Getting through the end of the half yesterday was fairly hectic for us,” Lasley tells me over Zoom. It has been a “busy, busy” first half of the year, a cause for some celebration: “[We’re] closing out the half with a lot of great initiatives.”
Some of the details remain a surprise for now. What she can tell me is what Amplitude is at its core: “We are what we call the ‘cockpit’ for websites and company application,” she says.
“We are what Salesforce is to sales teams or Adobe is to marketing teams. We really help product leaders understand how users are interfacing with their products and we know that products are really driving businesses going forward.”
Technology, and its role in our everyday lives, has come under scrutiny in recent years. From privacy violations and data mismanagement to misinformation and harassment, many view the ever-present reality of technology with a critical eye. Although not entirely unfounded, for technology providers it can be a difficult scepticism to shake.
With this in mind, how does Amplitude provide tech for good? “We’re really working with a lot of nonprofits and NGOs that are really able to leverage our technology and understand how people are engaging with them to better increase the user experience for those folks who are interested in supporting those organisations.
“For example, we have a large hospital organisation that we work with that does a lot of fundraising, and they have been able to use and sort of see how folks are engaging on the site and with their messaging to better tailor those messages for their donors.”
They’ve really been able to use our analytics in terms of what drives people to do that initial sort of inquiry into getting a career in tech and being able to then follow up right away, so that they can get people on the right path.
Amplitude also works with GoFundMe, the US-based crowdfunding platform that helps people raise money for everything from celebrations and birthdays to accidents, surgeries and illnesses. Approximately a third of all GoFundMe campaigns are for medical bills.
Lasley continues: “They wanted to have a better understanding of what motivates people to create GoFundMe accounts, and so they turned on our application for data insights and did some AB testing to really enhance the GoFundMe user experience.”
Amplitude also has an organisation that is part of their Tech for Black Founders program, Lasley tells me.
Only 1% of founders backed by venture capital in the United States are Black. With this in mind, Amplitude, together with mParticle, Braze, Branch, and Radar, have come together to make technology completely free to US-based, early stage startups led by Black founders.
Amplitude also works with Career Karma, “an organisation that really provides individuals with information, tools and support to get their start in a career in tech,” says Lasley.
“They’ve really been able to use our analytics in terms of what drives people to do that initial sort of inquiry into getting a career in tech and being able to then follow up right away, so that they can get people on the right path.”
Threats and Opportunities
The Great Resignation, an ongoing trend in employment and business, has seen employees voluntarily quit their jobs en masse.
On this, Lasley says: “The great resignation that a lot of companies have been talking about is seen as a threat in the sense that people are reevaluating what’s important to them in terms of their jobs, in their careers, and they want to do something that’s meaningful, impactful.
“My standpoint, I think, is that this is a great opportunity for us because we have an opportunity to better tell our story. We’re out there now being much more transparent about our commitments and our commitment to impact in making the world a better place.
“And that allows us to really be a beacon as a place that folks will want to come to … we want to be at the top of their list.”
In terms of the threat to our employee base, we really want to make sure that folks are feeling supported and that they don’t they don’t miss out on taking care of themselves just to hit a number or to, you know, keep the business going.
Lasley also states that employee well-being is a priority at Amplitude. “It’s been a really rough go of it the last few years between the pandemic and a lot of social issues here in the States – really, globally – like the recent overturning of Roe versus Wade, and other social issues like gun violence.”
She continues: “People are stressed. In terms of the threat to our employee base, we really want to make sure that folks are feeling supported and that they don’t they don’t miss out on taking care of themselves just to hit a number or to, you know, keep the business going.”
Amplitude has had a total of six ‘safe spaces,’ an opportunity for employees to come together and discuss issues affecting them. These sessions are facilitated by a licensed social worker.
“Yes, this is a place of work,” says Lasley, “but we are also humans and we respond to things that are going on in society, and we want to be there for people.”
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Lasley is Amplitude’s first Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Her role centres around creating a sense of community and carving a space for everyone at the company. This entails creating employee resource groups: “We call those our community groups,” she says.
“We have ten of them here based on the women’s group. There are several women’s groups and race-based groups, and groups based on sexual orientation, things like that. So pretty much any way in which folks identify there’s a space for them to socialise, celebrate and come together as a community.”
Another facet of Lasley’s work is helping to diversify Amplitude’s workforce: “So working in partnership with our Talent Acquisition and Recruiting team on what those numbers look like for the future of the workforce.” This also involves working with Amplitude’s Marketing team to create a brand that will be attractive to a more diverse workforce.
We are what Salesforce is to sales teams or Adobe is to marketing teams. We really help product leaders understand how users are interfacing with their products and we know that products are really driving businesses going forward.
In terms of equity, Lasley helps new hires by creating conversations around “untangling historical inequities that have been institutionalised for generations to make sure that everyone has an opportunity and a path to grow.”
She has helped develop learning and development programs specifically for traditionally marginalised groups. “For us, we really focus on traditionally marginalised folks,” she says. “That is Black, Latinx and Native peoples, native Pacific Islanders.”
She continues: “So how do we provide extra supports, including mentoring, coaching and other training to make sure that those folks have an equal opportunity, so an equitable opportunity, to be successful here at Amplitude.”
“I’m excited about the future,” Lasley tells me. “We have so many good things coming this year and over the next couple of years.”
“I love all the new technology and how everything is integrated, and it is great to see Amplitude as a part of that effort, to help [tech leaders] understand how their customers are using their products.”