Alabama’s Original (And Recertified) B Corp: An Interview with Laura Huckabee-Jennings
Since 2016, one company has stood alone in Alabama’s B Corp community. Based in Huntsville, Transcend, helps companies transform their cultures, developing leaders at every level of the organization. And their CEO, Laura Huckabee-Jennings, has long been a staple in the community, serving on multiple nonprofit boards and mentoring entrepreneurs across the state, while also working with companies across the country.
And at any B Corp event both regionally and nationally, you’d see Laura Huckabee-Jennings representing Alabama and the southeast region, firmly set in her belief that companies could and should use their businesses as a force for good. But Transcend is alone no longer. Alabama now has three certified B Corps, including several of those companies she has mentored.
We had the honor of working with Laura on Transcend’s second recertification–B Corps must maintain their status and go through the verification process every three years–and we thought it would be fun to sit down with Laura and talk about her company, why she continues to certify it as a B Corp, and what the growth in local B Corps means to her and the state she calls home.
PPC: Laura, you recently recertified Transcend as a B Corp. What value does the certification have on your business and why have you continued to maintain it?
Laura: We have always run our business by principles that align with B Corp, but the certification gives our stakeholders confidence that we actually manage in the way we say we do. It’s been particularly beneficial in attracting employees who are mission driven and want to work in an environment where they are truly valued. We maintain it because it helps us take a careful look at how we are doing and find areas where we can still improve.
Laura on-stage at BLD Southeast ‘23 during the Building the Movement panel. (Photo Credit: Chat With Leaders Media)
PPC: You were the only Alabama B Corp for quite a while. How much fun is it to finally have some company?
Laura: I can’t overstate how excited I am to have three new Certified B Corps in the state, and several more in the process. We have been encouraging companies to certify since we did in 2016, but it just was too big a leap for many people to take it on. I think there is a lack of understanding of what it takes to be a B Corporation in the state, and we still live in a shareholder primacy business environment. Being a Certified B Corp means abiding by commitments to people and planet, right next to profits, and many business leaders found that this was more than they were willing to embrace. They were still profit first, and would then give some away to charity as their social responsibility. Obviously, B Corp is an order of magnitude more complex and a much more serious commitment to your community and the world.
Having additional B Corps will help spread the word and give us partners in the discussion of how we leverage business as a force for good in Alabama, and be part of moving the state forward in a way that everyone benefits. It’s an amazing state with incredible people. Alabama deserves nothing less than business entities who prioritize community and the common good.
PPC: Why do you think it’s important to continue to grow the Alabama B Corp community?
Laura: As we have more and more B Corps in the state, we can build community to educate the public and other business and government leaders about what B Corps do for the state. There is a hunger to not just make money but to do something meaningful in the world, and we can encourage more socially-minded entrepreneurs to build their businesses as B Corps from day one.
It’s also a journey, and there are unique challenges we face as B Corps and supporting each other gives us access to new ideas, new solutions, and the numbers to influence policy decisions that can help our state grow in a sustainable way.
The Alabama B Corps, including Laura and her husband Andrew, at BLD Southeast. (Photo Credit: Nathan Stuck).
PPC: As a female CEO, how does it feel seeing the Alabama B Corp community growth driven by this incredible group of female business leaders?
Laura: Well, both men and women contribute incredible power to the business community and the B Corp community in particular, so let’s say up front that we appreciate everyone who embarks on this journey. It is also true that there are more female entrepreneurs than men, so it feels natural to me that there might be more female-led B Corp new businesses being formed.
The Alabama B Corp women in particular are driven, principled, and optimistic about what we can do in the state, so I am not surprised that they are certifying to recognize their hard work. It feels great to see women taking the lead and I am hopeful that we can change ideas of what entrepreneurship looks like in Alabama and highlight the great work being done by all kinds of people – starting with this diverse group of women.
Profitable Purpose Consulting is a full service culture and impact agency that specializes in B Corp certification. While they’re headquartered in Georgia and their heart is in the southeast, they work with clients around the world and have a network just as global. At PPC, it’s not just the certification, it’s successfully implementing every part of the process and telling the story of the good you do.