Why Leading Companies Need Them Now


As with most other industries, there are disparities in the cannabis sector when it comes to women leaders. There are simply not enough women CEOs, owners and managers. Why is there no more female leadership? Of all the industries you think women would be part of, cannabis is one of them. After all, it’s a modern, progressive business that succeeds despite years of controversy surrounding the unfairly defamed and ironically female plant.

There are dozens of amazing women who have been at the forefront of medical marijuana advocacy and research. For example:

  • Moriah Barnhart, founding partner and CEO of CannaMoms.
  • Brandie Cross, Ph.D., founder and research director of The Pot Lab.
  • Cristina Sánchez, Ph.D., and her innovative work on cannabinoids as chemotherapeutic agents for cancer.

There are many more too many to mention, and many more women who passionately believe in the medicinal power of cannabis.

But where are the women leaders?

We’ve looked at the research and thought about this question because it’s a mystery that we know our cannabis customers want to address before the problem becomes endemic. Here is what we discovered.

An industry in flux

Instead of start-ups in local communities, there are a growing number of prominent corporate agents with global supply chains entering the field. Growth is good. Larger companies expand the market and provide more resources and an infusion of cash. But you shouldn’t have to compromise on the values ​​and ideals on which many cannabis companies are based.

In the early days, the cannabis industry attracted better-than-average women leaders. But that number is declining. According to the MJBizDaily report, “Women and minorities in the cannabis industry”, 36.8% of all management positions were held by women in 2019. By 2021, this figure had dropped to 22.1%. Compare that to the national average of 29.8% of all U.S. companies in 2020, compared to 21% in 2018, and the problem becomes even more evident. The cannabis industry had previously surpassed the national average … a lot.

Cannabis was initially a haven for women executives who faced glass ceilings impossible in traditional industries and who sought to expand their career opportunities. This must not end. There are ways to continue to attract, develop and retain women leaders with incredible talent.

In addition, there are good reasons supported by research why cannabis companies should want these women.

Research on women in leadership

In a 2021 study by McKinsey and Lean InDuring the pandemic, women were better at providing emotional support to employees, controlling them, and helping them navigate and balance life and work. You know, all the things that keep employees happy and productive during a difficult time. On the face of it, these look positive. And they are. But they are also the characteristics that we would stereotypically apply to women.

The problem is, and still is, the belief or perception that women do not have the skills and competencies required of a leader. And that’s just not true. Researchers a Zenger / Folkman He found in 2012 and again in 2019 that women score as well or better than men on a wide range of leadership characteristics that measure effectiveness. Your conclusion? “Women are very effective leaders.”

And to go one step further, Goldman and Sachs reported in 2020 that the the higher the percentage of women in management, the better the financial performance of companies. Researchers warn that this does not imply causation, as there are other factors that can contribute. But these findings hold for several measured periods of time, and the study authors conclude that diversity is a good thing.

Women leaders of color

How about black women? Black women in leadership positions for any industry are rare. Although white men make up only 35% of the U.S. population, they occupy 68% of all C-suite positions. Black women, who make up 7.4% of the population, account for 1.4% of these high-level positions, according to a 2020 study by Stretch to, “The Status of Black Women in Corporate America.”

Black women face many problems that perhaps white women do not face in the workplace. So for many women of color, the cannabis industry it looks like a bridge too far away. Donat discriminatory application of the past and the toll it had on black and brown communities, it’s easy to see why minority women can adopt a wait-and-see attitude. According to the VICE Media Group’s cannabis perception survey, only 40% of women are black We believe it will be safe to produce and sell cannabis products by 2030 (!), Regardless of skin color.

Just because companies are launching initiatives that welcome women on board does not mean that women of color feel welcome. It is about understanding the complexities of each group’s experience and treating people as individuals. This means that cannabis companies will need intersectional strategies to deal with the overlapping types of discrimination that women of color may face.

The Importance of Women Leaders in the Cannabis Business

Historically, there has been a lot of discrimination against marijuana and its use. This includes the disproportionate arrests and imprisonment of black and brown people. In addition, there is the stigma of a permanent criminal record that continues to devastate family relationships, housing prospects, and job opportunities. These relics of the war on drugs greatly affect communities of color. Many people who are currently involved in the legitimate cannabis trade recognize the irony and opportunities of the current situation.

Now, medical marijuana (including CBD) is legal in 48 states and attitudes are changing. Today, cannabis companies are doing well in many communities, but there is so much more to do. Diversity is important in all sectors. In the cannabis industry, it is a fundamental responsibility to be inclusive with those who have been deprived of rights in the past. More than ever, the cannabis industry needs different perspectives and points of view from all directions to reach its full potential.

Hire intentionally

It is important to understand why the number of women in the cannabis leadership is going in the wrong direction. Like every institution and every individual, there is bias. Prejudices are neither good nor bad. We all have them to some extent.

The biases that exclude people, in many cases, are not even conscious. They are integrated into systems. And it is up to companies to address systemic bias where it exists, but especially during recruitment processes and in the ways in which cannabis companies support and enable professional development. This means hiring on purpose.

When hiring on purpose, look beyond gender differences and others that are simply not important. How can you do that? Create new processes, blind processes that focus on getting leaders with the skills and abilities you value, regardless of whether they look like you, think like you, or speak like you.

Once you bring these super-skilled women on board, the work doesn’t stop there. Companies that hope to retain women and promote them through the ranks should support them by helping them navigate the political environment, advocating for them, and helping them take advantage of appropriate leadership opportunities. It is a high order. Only a handful of companies will meet the challenge.

But that is what will be needed to prevent cannabis companies from taking the traditional path in a non-traditional world. Research shows that women can provide effective leadership and improve the profitability of your business. While diversity is essential in every industry, it is even more fundamental to the cannabis industry.

If you are looking for your next executive leader, you will want to hire the best. Contact And Scouts. We can help you hire on purpose.

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