Five to Nine for Black Lives: A Guide to Allyship

Action Starts with You

September 19, 2022
9 min read
Employee Engagement

At Five to Nine, our mission is for everyone in the workplace to feel that they belong by facilitating community at work. We believe it is on every company to continuously fight for inclusion, and take action beyond words and optics. This is why we’ve compiled a list of resources for companies and allies to support their Black employees during this difficult time – and beyond.

Beyond the list below, reach out to us at to learn more about how we can help your organization foster inclusivity through employee resource group management training which includes leadership, intersectionality, and allyship programming for your leaders. In the meantime, we hope the list below is a start.

1. Be vocal about your values and commitments
Black people and allies are seeking solidarity both in their communities at home and at work. Most HR leaders agree that silence isn’t an option. Employers can make it clear where they stand through a variety of means, both internal and external — including all-hands meetings, email communications, and conference calls. Companies can also go beyond moral support and words of encouragement. With support from leadership, teams can help make a tangible, positive impact by donating their time and money to causes aligned with equality and the Black Lives Matter movement. Making formal commitments can help hold your company accountable. There are many organizations that you can personally donate your time, money, and voice to or have your company make commitments towards. To get you started we’ve compiled a list at the end of this newsletter (courtesy of our allies at
Lesbians Who Tech).

2. Create opportunities to uncover the experiences, sentiments, and needs of black employees
Intentional spaces such as forums, panel discussions, and Zoom calls can be designed to encourage discussion around tough topics such as racism and discrimination. In a
2017 study by Sylvia Ann Hewlett and colleagues, 78% of black professionals said they have either experienced discrimination or fear that they or their loved ones will experience it, yet 38% felt it is never acceptable to speak about their experiences of bias at their companies. Consider organizing a safe space for employees to engage in authentic conversation around what black employees and their loved ones are experiencing. The space can also be used to educate employees on the science and history of systemic racism and equip them with concrete tactics to disrupt their own biases and actively work towards actively advocating against racism.

3. Tackle systemic inequality, starting with the corporate culture
Many organizations have created DEI programs in an attempt to recruit and retain more minorities, but the initiatives often fall short. Why? These programs tend to focus on helping black employees assimilate into the status-quo culture, rather than finding opportunities for them to bring their authentic selves to work. Dr. Laura Morgan Roberts, Professor of Practice at the Darden School of Business, suggests that companies can foster a more inclusive environment by using data analytics to assess whether employees feel included on their teams and are treated fairly within their larger organizations. These surveys should be broken down by demographic categories, including race and gender, to identify certain populations that have a lower engagement or sense of commitment to the organization.

4. Work to boost psychological safety
Michelle Kim, renowned DEI consultant and activist, wrote a piece in 2017 titled
“How to Manage Your Team in Times of Political Trauma”. We found this article to be highly informative and relevant to the current events unfolding. She offers practical and sustainable tips to boost psychological safety in the workplace for both employees and leadership.

5. Learn from others
It’s okay not to have all the answers. There are many DEI and Black ERG leaders who are dedicating their time to coming up with actionable antiracist commitments for corporations. Dr. Erin L Thomas, Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging at UpWork, shared the following ideas:

  • Validate your Black employees’ humanity by communicating with them directly and personally
  • Curate a private memorial or other virtual space for Black employees to process and grieve
  • Protect Black employees’ time and ability to heal via external community gatherings, expensable coaching or therapy, and PTO.
  • Relieve Black Employee Resource Group (ERG) members and leaders from all things. Managing the company through this is not part of their roles
  • At the same time, check in with Black ERG leaders to the extent that they’re energized, able and willing to be consulted
  • Mobilize other ERGs to ally in ways prescribed by the Black ERG or an internal or external DEI leader
  • If you do not have an ERG at your organization, reach out to us at and we can help you get started.
  • Hold managers accountable for checking in 1:1 with Black employees and equip them to hold that space
  • With Black employee consent, express solidarity in team settings & actively facilitate discussion so Black employees don’t carry the ensuing emotional labor
  • Set quantitative goals for Black diversity, inclusion and belonging, including specific targets for Black leader representation, internal mobility, and Black employee engagement
  • Put recurring time on the calendar now to assess progress against these quantitative goals

Here is a list of nonprofits, collectives, and funds employers and employees can align themselves with, learn from, and donate to:

  1. Black Lives Matter: A global network fighting for Freedom, Liberation and Justice of Black folks by building local power and intervening when violence is inflicted on Black communities.
  2. Campaign Zero: A campaign taking deliberate action to end the disproportionate police violence and incarceration of Black communities in America.
  3. Run with Maud: A justice campaign fighting for due process in the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery. Sign the petition or make phone calls to demand justice for Ahmaud.
  4. Take Action Minnesota: A Minnesota-based organization pushing for collective aid and pursuing justice in the murder of George Floyd.
  5. Fair Fight Action: An organization promoting fair elections and educating voters about their voting rights nationwide.
  6. NAACP Legal Defense Fund: America’s premiere legal defense organization fighting for racial justice.
  7. Color of Change: The nation’s largest online racial justice organization.
  8. The Bail Project: Provides free bail assistance to low-income individuals who are legally presumed innocent.
  9. Black Visions Collective: A Minnesota-based organization that believes in a future where all Black people have autonomy, safety is community-led, and we are in right relationship within our ecosystems.
  10. Reclaim the Block: A Minneapolis-based campaign that works to move money from the police department to other areas of the city budget, prioritizing community health and safety.
  11. Communities United for Police Reform: A campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York.
  12. Southern Poverty Law Center: An organization that monitors and exposes the behavior of hate groups and extremists in the US.
  13. American Civil Liberties Union: An organization dedicated to defending and preserving the civil rights and liberties of all Americans.

Looking for resources on how to effectively engage your team and implement radical workplace practices? Learn more about how we can help your organization foster inclusivity through employee resource group management training which includes leadership, intersectionality, and allyship programming for your leaders. Reach out to us at with subject line: Request for Services

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