This post was first published on LinkedIn.
Year two of the pandemic. Check. At Avenue, we grew, we struggled, we empathized, we supported and we reached and exceeded our company goals for the year. Most importantly, we co-created a strong foundation from which to jump into our next phase of growth for the company. On top of that, our growth necessitated the hiring of four new team members in 2021, all of whom bring a wealth of new knowledge, passion and purpose to fuel our upward trajectory. As is the case every year, we also continued to have the privilege of collaborating on fun, challenging and thought-provoking work with our amazing clients. Heartfelt thanks to our entire community. 💛
After wrapping up an inspiring Annual Strategic Planning Retreat two weeks ago, I couldn’t be more excited for the journey we have ahead of us in 2022!
As a Certified B Corporation®, we strive to improve our positive impact every year. This means that we invest our resources in making our business better, more compassionate and doing things differently in order to contribute to a more inclusive, equitable and regenerative economy. Every step of the way. 365 days a year.
Our 2021 Impact Report covers these five core areas of impact from the past year:
Growth and Sustainability
Leadership and Diversity
Culture and Employee Engagement
Community and Environmental Impact
Read on below for a recap of our work and impact over the past 12 months. You can also view or download the full (more aesthetically pleasing) Impact Report here.
Avenue’s Mission Lock: As an independent business, Avenue not only has a mission statement, purpose and values, but we have amended corporate governing documents that require consideration of all stakeholders in our decision-making (e.g. operating agreement, completed B Corp legal amendment) to legally ensure that our social or environmental performance is a part of Avenue’s decision-making over time, regardless of company ownership.
Advisory Board: Avenue’s highest level of corporate oversight is our Non-Fiduciary Advisory Board which is comprised of 5 CEOs and Executives in Portland who support and advise on Avenue’s future growth, development and leadership.
Commitment to Our Values: Avenue continued to lean into our B Corp values by investing more time into our BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and anti-racism efforts and taking care of our team members from a health and wellness standpoint.
Standing Up for What We Believe: 100% of our team was given Juneteenth as PTO to support Black-owned businesses in Portland. We considered, learned and honored the history of Freedom Day, also known as Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. We also acknowledge the work still to be done. We continued to engage in meaningful conversations to catalyze change and dug into the neverending work towards dismantling racism. Being a better business is not just about what we are doing today or have done in the past, it’s about continuing to challenge ourselves to improve our impact over time. Here are three examples of what better business means to Avenue, in addition to our perspective on Building Better Business: 3 Considerations for an Inclusive Economy.
Impact Reporting: 3 formal impacts reports going back to 2019, 2020 and 2021. Avenue provides descriptions of our social and environmental programs and performance, and we voluntarily share social or environmental performance indicators publicly. We treat our social and environmental impact as a primary measure of success for our business and prioritize it even in cases where it may not drive profitability.
Transparency with Financials: Every month throughout the year, Avenue discloses all financial information (except salary information) to 100% of the company. In addition to sharing financials, our company also has an intentional education program around shared financials through our monthly State of the Avenue Meeting.
Values-Driven Banking and Financial Institution Relationships: 1 primary values-driven banking partner. Avenue not only intentionally chooses to work with Credit Unions (financial cooperatives), but we have chosen our primary financial institution to provide the majority of our company's banking services based on their characteristics as a Certified B Corporation and as a Member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values committed to serving the community. We’re proud to partner with Beneficial State Bank!
We Leaned In and Became a 100% Remote and Hybrid Company: In March of this year, Avenue became a fully remote company (officially). Counting from March 12, 2020 (unofficially), that’s 23 months as a remote and hybrid company. As we embraced the remote work environment and the realization that we were in it for the long haul, Avenue’s first order of business was to get every team member equipped with a state-of-the-art workstation. In fact, the transition to working from home 100% allowed us to upgrade our office equipment to brand new Fully sit-stand desks (bonus: they are a B Corp!), new monitors, desk chairs, and more. You can read the full post on how we are leaning into the hybrid workplace at Avenue here.
Growth and Sustainability
Longevity: 6 years in business and growing!
Our Impact: 4 years of impact as a Certified B Corporation®.
Growth: 20% year-over-year (YoY) growth in 2021 during a global pandemic.
Job Growth: 100% job growth rate for the past 12 months for full-time roles, and 100% of Avenue’s jobs (all full-time) are paid with a living wage (and significantly above the individual living wage of $18.72 in Oregon).
EBITDA Profit: 26.99% profit margin in 2021 allowing us to reinvest in the company and team.
Percentage of Profits Distributed as Bonuses: 15.36% of profits were distributed as bonuses to all non-executive employees.
Business Model Sustainability: 100% (93.33% in 2020) of clients are ongoing, long-term partners of Avenue’s, building around our recurring revenue model.
Diverse and Purpose-Driven Clients: 93.75% (86.67% in 2020) of our clients are B Corps, credit unions, women and BIPOC-owned businesses, purpose-driven, social impact-related or nonprofit organizations who serve diverse customer bases and communities. At Avenue, we intentionally seek out client partners who align with our values as a company and as a Certified B Corporation®.
# of Clients Served: 31 clients served in 2021 (37 served in 2020).
Client Retention: 94.22% retention rate of our clients.
Team Retention: 66.67% retention rate of the team, not including 4 new growth hires in 2021. We also partner with the Emerging Leaders Internship (ELI) program, which removes barriers to access by connecting talented students of color with leadership-track, paid internships at top companies throughout the Greater Portland area to grow our diverse talent base. Avenue has been partnering with ELI since 2017. Read our 2021 ELI Intern, Sharon Sherpa’s blog post Reflecting on my Emerging Leaders Internship with Avenue.
Industry Awards: We were honored to receive 1 award in 2021 (2 in 2020), an AMA Max Award for the ‘Best Social Campaign’ for our work with PBOT Portland Sunday Parkways. Avenue developed a holistic strategy for both organic and paid social media across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with the goal of amplifying Portland Sunday Parkways’ pivot to “Sunday Parkways at Home” to the Portland community. During a challenging year, Avenue's social strategy successfully connected 107,000 Portlanders with free at-home programming and resources that addressed their needs and fostered community connection in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest against systemic racism.
Leadership and Diversity
Avenue’s Leadership: Avenue is a 100% Woman, Immigrant, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) owned and operated digital marketing agency. Our CEO wrote about her experience with Assimilation, Adoption and Identity: How Being a Korean American Shaped Me.
Avenue’s Management Diversity: 66.67% of our company managers identified as being from an underrepresented social group in 2021.
Avenue’s Company Diversity: Our team identified as being 60% BIPOC and 40% white in 2021.
Commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (JEDI) and Anti-Racism: 4 Certifications to hold us accountable as a diverse company with a commitment to impact. As a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Women Business Enterprise (WBE), Emerging Small Business (ESB) and Certified B Corporation®, Avenue is committed to justice, equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism across all facets of our business, and we continue to do the work to address systemic racism. In 2021, Avenue launched an anti-racism project to address bias in digital marketing, which is detailed in A JEDI Approach to Redistributing Power in the Digital Landscape. As artificial intelligence (AI) and online bias become more and more prevalent across the digital landscape, historically underrepresented businesses are unfortunately negatively impacted by both of these trends the most. Avenue was inspired by our learning on the topics of Is Your Company Digitally and Socially Responsible? 7 Questions to Ask in the Era of AI Bias and 3 Digitally Responsible Practices for Your Company in the Era of AI Bias, and we are looking to flip the script on this reality. As an outcome of this project, Avenue will create free resources and blog content to help businesses that have been negatively impacted by algorithmic bias succeed.
Supporting Women and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Entrepreneurs and Students: 14 women and BIPOC entrepreneurs served in 2021 (8 in 2020) through digital marketing consultation and business support in partnership with Prosper Portland and Mercatus, in addition to business mentorship for 1 global student entrepreneur from the Russian Federation through the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) GSEA program. A few of the businesses we’ve supported include Ice Queen PDX, Sania Marie, Mooncake and Cider, Cafe de Crepe and House Nine PDX. In addition to supporting business owners and entrepreneurs, Avenue also partnered with B Corp Intuitive Digital on 1 scholarship to support students of color through their Inclusion in Digital Marketing Scholarship program.
Culture and Employee Engagement
Culture of Gratitude, Connection and Support: We continued our Daily Huddle tradition, a 20-minute checkpoint at the top of each day (Monday-Thursday) where the Daily Huddle Leader for the week leads a mindfulness exercise (Monday), a game or prompt question to learn more about each other (Tuesday and Wednesday) and the sharing of 1 gratitude (Thursday). Together, we connect as a virtual team to update each other on our priorities for the day and where we might need support from the team to accomplish our tasks and goals.
Annual Gallup Q12 Survey: 4.65 out of 5 (4.7 in 2020). Gallup has studied survey results from more than 35 million employees around the world, and the Q12 survey is the most effective measure of employee engagement and its impact on business sustainability.
Weekly 15Five Survey: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5 in 2020). 15Five is a tool that measures employee satisfaction and engagement and helps create highly-engaged, high-performing organizations by helping people become their best selves.
Total PTO Days and Paid Holidays Enjoyed: An average of 40 PTO and paid holidays were taken by each employee (for employees employed for all 12-months of the year) including Unlimited PTO, Avenue Holiday Weeks and Paid Holidays provided by Avenue.
Total Individual PTO Days Taken Not Including Holidays: 94.1 days of PTO taken across the team, and an average of 24.44 days of PTO taken per team member. Avenue’s annual minimum for PTO taken is 25 days per full-time team member employed for 12-months. Taking time for rest, recovery and self-care is incredibly important to us. As a B Corp, it has always been important to Avenue to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our team members by creating boundaries around our workday and work year. The ability for team members to have permission to rest and recharge was designed to foster an environment where everyone can bring their best work and mental capacity to the virtual office for our clients to thrive. In addition to Unlimited PTO, Avenue closes the virtual office for 2 Holiday Weeks each year (in June and December), which is a time for our team to take a break and recharge. We believe the benefit is mutual. When team members return, we are stronger, fresher and ready to tackle new creative challenges for all of our amazing client partners. Read more from our CEO about The Power of PTO and No Meeting Fridays.
Annual and Quarterly Strategic Planning: 1 Annual Strategic Planning Retreat held in Portland (with a scheduled return to Hawaii in Q2 2021) 🌴! Additionally, we gather the company together for three 1 day company retreats (at Stoller Family Estate and our CEO’s backyard in 2021) where we engage our entire team across the strategy, goal-setting and decision-making process for Avenue.
Continuing Education and Professional Development: Avenue provides a $1,000 professional development stipend for all employees to improve their technical and professional skill set, in addition to a 30, 60 and 90-day training and onboarding program for all new hires. Additionally, Avenue invests in monthly training and continuing education that extends beyond job requirements, including monthly anti-racism sessions with Construct the Present, monthly StrengthsFinder training sessions and 1on1 coaching with an outside consultant for the entire team, monthly management training sessions for Avenue’s people managers with an outside consultant, monthly lunch and learns on topics like mindfulness, digital marketing, financial wellness, cross-skills training, etc. with both internal team members and external consultants.
Avenue’s Benefits: Avenue provides 100% employer-paid medical, dental, vision coverage, short and long-term disability, life insurance and a SIMPLE IRA plan with a 3% employer match for all full-time employees. A few other benefits of note include 12 weeks of paid parental leave and a Shop Local Stipend, Cell Phone Stipend and WiFi Stipend. Our Benefits are an investment in the health, wellness and personal and professional safety of our employees.
Supporting Personal Wellness: Avenue provides 100% of the team with a Fitness Stipend to support outside wellness activities such as gym memberships, fitness classes, online fitness membership, etc.
Books Read by the Team: 143 books. Reading continued to give the team a place to explore, something to do and many things to learn as the pandemic continued. As the late American author and social activist Gloria Jean Watkins “bell hooks” said, “What we do is more important than what we say or what we say we believe.” For Avenue, reading was another path that led us to more learning and doing behind the scenes, both personally and professionally (where we focused on anti-racism, digital bias and dismantling white supremacy culture topics).
Our Dog and Cat Coworkers: 365 days of our dog and cat coworkers keeping us company and entertained with Zoom cameos (shout out to Lenny, Lochsa, Munchie, Raja and Maple for keeping us going!). 🐶😻
Team Members Working Abroad: Avenue’s remote workplace enabled team members to work all over the world and country. From Bologna, Italy for three months, to weeks spent in Joshua Tree, Southern California, Bend, Sisters and the Oregon Coast, Avenue team members enjoyed taking in new sights, sounds and experiences in 2021.
Community and Environmental Impact
Avenue’s Designed to Give Model: Since our inception, Avenue has invested in worthy causes as part of our community impact program which donates 5% or more of annual revenue to local nonprofits (both financial and in-kind/pro bono services) to amplify their good work and impact. Avenue also has a robust Charity of Choice program that provides Oregon-based non-profits with up to $5,000 in pro bono marketing services on a quarterly basis each year, which totals approximately $25,000 annually and 2.5%+ of employee time.
Pro Bono $ Support of Nonprofit and Purpose-Driven Work in the Community: $25,000 in pro bono services ($25,000 in 2020) given to non-profits as part of our quarterly Charity of Choice program (to organizations such as PDXWIT, Prosper Portland, Sudara and more). Community service and impact are part of our DNA. Avenue is committed to contributing to our community, environment, society and world in a meaningful way.
Actual $ Support of Nonprofit Work in the Community: 1.3% of annual gross revenue (1.6% in 2020) donated in cash to nonprofits by Avenue. Since our inception, Avenue has donated 1% or more of annual gross revenue to local nonprofits to amplify their good work and impact. In 2021, the list included SMART Reading, Elevate Oregon, Business for a Better Portland and more.
Team Members Investing $ in the Community: An additional $3,750 invested in the community by the team ($2,250 in 2020) through our company-funded Shop Local Stipend. As part of our commitment to our team and community, Avenue provides a monthly Shop Local Stipend for team members to support local businesses or nonprofits of their choice.
# of Volunteer Hours Contributed by the Team: 214.67 hours (48 in 2020) that team members committed through pro bono services and individually to organizations they are passionate about (using work hours to do so). Avenue team members have dedicated their time to support organizations such as PDXWIT, Sudara, Prosper Portland, SMART Reading, Elevate Oregon and more.
# of Hours of Board Service Contributed by the Team: 228 hours (192 in 2020).
Miles Driven and Gas Conserved as a Remote Company with No Commute: 8,613 miles (7,224 miles in 2020) and 452.40 hours saved (280 hours in 2020) by not driving to an office during COVID, which equates to roughly 344.52 gallons of gas conserved (289 gallons in 2020) and greatly reduced emissions.
Offsetting our Carbon Footprint: Avenue planted 300 trees through One Tree Planted, a 1% for the Planet Company in honor of Avenue’s clients, partners and friends, and we purchased 60,000 pounds of carbon offsets from Terrapass to cover the collective 31,572 miles round-trip for our upcoming trip to Kauai in Q2 2022.
Like Avenue, B Corps are champions of measuring impact, and the B Corp movement is continuing to grow. You can learn more about the companies that are using business as a force for good by following @bcorporation and @blocalpdx. And you can also take the B Impact Assessment Snapshot to see your company’s impact on its workers, community, environment and customers. I invite you to join Avenue and the B Corp movement on this journey to create lasting, positive change in the world we love.