The cannabis industry has experienced explosive growth in recent years, with legalization sweeping across various parts of the country. While this newfound acceptance of cannabis has opened up numerous opportunities for entrepreneurs, it has also revealed a significant challenge: gender inequality within the industry. It will be no surprise to many that BIWOC (Black, Indigenous, women of color) are those most impacted by gender inequality in the industry.
The phenomenon, often called the “grass ceiling,” is something women in cannabis actively work to shatter. Since gender inequality is a complex issue affecting industries and individuals at multiple levels, the solution must also be complex and many-pronged for meaningful change.
1. Foster Women-Owned Cannabis Businesses
One of the most effective ways to break the grass ceiling in the cannabis industry is by actively supporting and encouraging women to start and operate cannabis businesses. It’s no secret that entrepreneurship is a powerful tool for achieving gender equality in business.
There are a couple of ways to do this: the more logistical side, which involves capital and resources, and the social/networking side, which involves making connections in the industry and getting in the right rooms.
Facilitate BIWOC Access to Cannabis Capital
By providing resources and access to capital specifically tailored to women in cannabis, we can help level the playing field.
Women-owned cannabis businesses often face barriers when seeking capital to start or expand. Creating investment opportunities prioritizing female entrepreneurs, particularly BIWOC entrepreneurs, can make a significant difference. Financial institutions, venture capitalists, and angel investors should actively seek out women-led startups and provide them with the resources needed to thrive.
Host and Attend Networking Events for Women in Cannabis
Hosting networking cannabis events for women can foster connections and collaborations. These events can facilitate knowledge sharing, partnership building, and opportunities that may have been otherwise inaccessible.
As an individual, attend as many of these events as possible to forge connections with other women in the industry. Networking with individuals facing many of the same challenges in the industry as you will help you obtain potential allies and collaborators for partnerships and other projects.
Help Women Receive Recognition and Awards
Recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women in the cannabis industry is crucial. Awards and accolades specifically for women can inspire others to pursue leadership roles, start their businesses, and contribute to the industry’s overall success.
2. Promote Women in Corporate Leadership Roles
Another essential step in overcoming gender inequality in the cannabis industry is encouraging and enabling women to take leadership roles. Diverse leadership teams bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the table.
Cannabis companies should actively seek to diversify their boardrooms by appointing more women to leadership positions. Diversification ensures decision-making involves a broader range of experiences and viewpoints.
Offering leadership and executive training programs tailored to women in cannabis can help prepare them for leadership roles and close the industry’s c-suite gender gap. These programs should focus on developing essential skills like negotiation, strategic planning, and team management.
If you have made it to a leadership role as a woman in cannabis, perhaps consider fostering other women in the industry, grooming them for leadership roles to pay it forward and uplift other women.
3. Consider the Role DEI Plays in Cannabis Industry Inclusivity
Creating a more inclusive cannabis industry requires ongoing advocacy and commitment to equal opportunities for all.
Cannabis companies should establish and enforce diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies that promote equal opportunities for women, BIPOC, and other underrepresented groups. DEI policies should be embedded in the company culture and upheld at all levels.
Raising awareness about gender inequality in the cannabis industry is also essential. Educational initiatives, workshops, and seminars can help combat biases and stereotypes while promoting a culture of respect and equality.
Multilateral Cannabis Collaboration Initiatives Can Propel Women Forward
Collaboration between cannabis industry stakeholders, government agencies, and advocacy groups can drive meaningful change. Together, these entities can develop policies, incentives, and initiatives that actively support women in cannabis.
Promote Women’s Empowerment and Leadership in the Cannabis Industry
The grass ceiling in the cannabis industry is a formidable challenge, but it is not insurmountable. By fostering women-owned cannabis businesses, promoting women empowerment in leadership roles, and advocating for inclusivity and equal opportunities, we can make significant strides toward creating a more equitable and diverse industry.
Ultimately, a thriving cannabis industry benefits from the talent, innovation, and perspectives of all its participants, regardless of gender. Breaking the grass ceiling is a moral imperative and a smart business move that will drive growth and success for years to come.