It is true that this is one of the largest opportunities for women to gain leadership positions.
It is false that the current climate is already as conducive to equality as it says it is.
We speak often about diversity and inclusion. Essentially every major industry currently operates within the “boys club” where the HUGE majority of leadership and the team in general is mostly comprised of caucasion men. As we’re sure you’ve heard, there is no magic wand that can be waved in order to establish true and authentic equality within the workforce. We have to now go backwards and overturn the systematic bias that exists and continues in order to make room for diverse, but equally as qualified candidates. The underrepresented must be a part of the conversation. The task is daunting but doable. There is one industry, however, that offers a slight advantage – the cannabis industry.
The industry is new. The industry is booming and growing at a pace that is currently unmatched. Surely, the imbalance hasn’t been layered into every subsequent professional community within the industry, right? Its great! It’s a fresh start, right? LOL NO. WRONG.
Ask yourself, “How the industry is growing and where the money comes from?”
Private equity groups are now forming cannabis divisions and funding many of the bigger companies in the industry. The PE groups have been established for generations. Their inherent bias flows into the cannabis industry. This brings the skewed ideals and inequality along with it. It is happening and we can’t ignore it. We have to be proactive.
The cannabis industry boasts one of the highest percentages of women in leadership, but in the last 2 years the percentage of women in c-suite positions has slipped from 36% to 27% according to MJBizDaily. The average throughout all of the industries in the US is slightly below 25% which is… well horrifying. Let’s be real here – 27% is not any better. In any industry, it is not good enough. Progress is declining.
How did the cannabis industry already get to this point when the industry preaches diversity, inclusion, and a progressive culture? There are fundamentals of business, practices, investors, and parent companies that bring with them antiquated ideals. The damage is so instilled into the inception of the industry. This is an opportunity to create, from ALMOST the beginning, an industry with diversity and equality at the forefront of business decisions intertwined into every element of every company.
TRY NOT TO PANIC. THIS IS NOT A LOST CAUSE. WE ARE NOT AT A POINT OF NO RETURN.
There is still a huge opportunity in this space. The industry is growing and, with the right initiatives and legitimate support, it can grow in a way that promotes credible equality.
ONE MORE TIME FOR THE FOLKS IN THE BACK: there is promise here. We may be regressing more than progressing because there is still a continuation of the old ways but we can change that.
The ‘boy’s club’ has as much of an opportunity to create a backwards and prejudice-packed environment and carry on with the current status quo. Still, women have a huge opportunity here.So how do we ensure we are doing better and capitalizing on the opportunities that are available to EVERYONE?
For this answer, we asked Samantha Ford. Sam is a Business Developer in the Cannabis space and has deep insight into the industry in general as well as a passion for promoting women in the cannabis industry. We asked her what the biggest opportunities for women in the industry were and how do we work to offer women an equal shot at these opportunities.
Sam say that “right now the biggest way women can truly help other women is by investing! Women are still struggling much more than men to raise capital. And then, to help educate women around investing, from those who have been there, done that. There are so many mis-steps and pitfalls that happen on this journey, it’s critical women share knowledge to help other founders avoid the pitfalls that are happening when it comes to raising money.”
The goal is, of course, to compete, but also support.
Sam makes it clear that “it’s really important if you are a women in this industry and going to say you want to help other women founders succeed, you have to walk the walk not just talk the talk. And that means, if you can help a woman founder or CEO by making a few networking introductions to a contact of yours that could be of some help, spend a few minutes and do that! Without expecting something in return. And then the next time you need an introduction for capital or partnership, it will come back as a pay it forward. I am ALWAYS connecting colleagues, and not expecting anything in return. It develops a trust and a relationship you can’t build any other way.”
Are you a woman who is aiming to break the mold and break into this industry? We want to hear from you. Reach out to us at [email protected] and let’s start the conversation!