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Want Gender Equity at Work? Get a Job in the Cannabis Industry

Topics: Career Profiles
cannabis industry
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One reason for the persistence of the gender pay gap is that women are less likely to hold management roles than men. However, as new industries evolve, we may have an opportunity to buck that trend. Research shows that the cannabis industry offers an unusual degree of gender equity for workers.

Recently, New Frontier Data and Women Grow released a report, Diversity in Cannabis: Perspectives on Gender, Race, and Inclusion in Legal Cannabis, examining diversity and inclusion in the legal marijuana industry. The report was based on surveys of more than 1,700 respondents from 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Examining some of the key takeaways from the report could help others businesses to learn from what’s happening in this relatively new industry.

Above-Standard Gender Equity in Upper Management

Relative to other fields, there is strong gender equity in management within the legal cannabis industry. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed said that half or more of the management team where they work are women, while 57 percent reported that half or more of the owners are female. And 30 percent of respondents say that they work for companies that are owned entirely by women.

“As business leaders, we have a unique opportunity to create better business environments by changing the narrative,” Kristina Garcia, CEO of Women Grow told Denver Business Journal. “As a new industry, we can make serious inroads by creating new standards. It is imperative we evolve in order for us to be inclusively successful.”

30 percent of workers in the cannabis industry say they work for companies owned entirely by women.Click To Tweet

Racial Diversity Lags

Despite impressive gender equity, upper management positions in the industry are not racially diverse. About half of the respondents said that there are no racial minorities in ownership roles in their business. Seventy-four percent of respondents said the industry should do more to improve racial and gender diversity in the industry.

However, this report indicates that fewer than one-third of these businesses have policies aimed toward the recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce.

Other Issues in the Cannabis Industry

The legal cannabis industry is relatively new, and workers there reportedly face many challenges as a result of being on the cutting edge. First of all, many workers don’t receive any benefits as a part of their compensation. Also, the pay is relatively low and business is uncertain. Forty-six percent of respondents said that business revenue was less than $100,000 in 2016. Still, folks in the legal cannabis industry work hard. Forty percent of those surveyed said they spent more than 40 hours a week at work.

We’ll see how these factors shift in the years to come. The cannabis industry is relatively new. Could its future growth negatively impact the diversity of the industry? Or, will they continue to improve their rates of inclusion?

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Dr. Denise A. Valenti
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Dr. Denise A. Valenti

The marijuana/cannabis industry is not inclusive. The industry is misusing the words and language related to diversity. The marijuana/cannabis industry is excluding entire categories of diversity as defined by the federal government. This is a little odd given the industry is seeking federal acknowledgement. The marijuana/cannabis industry is working to create equity among diverse populations, but is not truly addressing diversity as they are excluding the diversity category of disabled. The report cited is an example of narrow the focus is. The report cited has no discussions of the federally recognized diversity category of disability. Using the word/descriptor “diversity” is… Read more »

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