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While many believe that cannabis is a more socially conscious and progressive industry, there are still significant gender disparities. The average number of women in executive positions in cannabis has fallen from 29.8% to 22.1% in the past couple of years. This is doubly disappointing given that women are quickly becoming the largest demographic of cannabis consumers in the U.S.
Now is the time for women to claim more decisive roles in the industry. We need new approaches to problem-solving, and women possess brilliant core qualities to lead the way, such as displaying strength and resolution, listening with the intent to understand, communicating with mindfulness, being inclusive, and being open to learning and new ideas.
So rather than waiting for change to occur passively, we can actively help the industry grow into a more progressive, socially equal space.
Here are some of the best tips for female leaders in the cannabis industry or those looking to join the sector in executive roles.
1. Be confident in your skills
When a project arises, volunteer to take the lead. You can even use your past quantifiable successes to make your case and prove you are the right leader for the project. By showing your company that you take the initiative and are integral to the organization’s success, you will have more support when discussing opportunities for promotion.
Many studies have repeatedly shown an unconscious male bias preventing executives from promoting more women. Extinguish these doubts by consistently showing your skills and creativity.
According to a study reported by the Harvard Business Review, women scored higher in 17 of the 19 capabilities separating incredible leaders from mediocre ones. Be confident in using your skills and do not shy away from solving problems in innovative ways.
2. Push your cannabis company to achieve pay equity
It’s 2022, and women should receive equal pay as men when performing the same or similar job duties. Achieving this result is clearly in any cannabis company’s best interest, as it allows the business to hire and retain the best people, regardless of gender.
One way to promote pay equity is to work with senior management or members of the company’s board of directors to take a proactive, aggressive position that will be a pay equity industry. Another way to promote pay equity is to set up compensation reviews to ensure wages provided adequately compensated for the tasks being performed by each employee.
Become a part of the hiring and annual compensation review process. Companies are increasingly receptive to adding females and minority members to compensation committees, especially when there are volunteers.
Being a part of the hiring process as a female leader in cannabis can help with achieving pay equity. As a woman executive in the hiring process, you can push for making the pay decision based on the candidate’s skills, experience, and worth rather than their past salaries where they may have been underpaid.
3. Stand up for your ideas
With women making up just over 1 in 5 executive positions in the industry, it may feel challenging for them to voice an opinion during executive or management meetings. Keep in mind that a female perspective on everything from workplace equity to new product ideas is not only valid but essential to the future of your company’s business.
Cannabis sales to women increased by 55%, so their perspective on how company’s design, manufacture, and sell their cannabis products matters. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to arrive because it may never come up. Throw your voice into the ring and express your ideas in an organized manner that shows how they will benefit the cannabis company. Writing down bullet notes of what you want to cover may also help you build confidence to bring up your ideas during the meeting and stay focused. If someone tries to interrupt you, kindly tell them that you are curious about their response but would like to finish your point before entertaining their comment. Be persistent in presenting your ideas so they can get a fair analysis.
4. Empower other women to become female leaders
Women leaders in the cannabis industry should provide mentorship and support to female colleagues whenever they get the chance. One way is by standing up for a colleague when she is interrupted in meetings. It can be intimidating for a woman to speak up in a meeting with mostly males, and we have all witnessed the interrupting dominant male cutting off female colleagues when they speak. To counteract that, help create opportunities for females to talk openly without interruption during meetings.
Another way to empower women is to suggest less experienced women with leadership qualities take command of new projects. The opportunity to prove themselves in leadership roles will improve their confidence and highlight their full capabilities to the company. Finally, being approachable and open to helping your female colleagues can make a positive difference. Providing mentorship to other women one colleague at a time can go a long way in remedying the gender gap in the cannabis industry.
5. Show your strength through a growth mindset
Demonstrate your strength as a female leader with grace and kindness. Ideally, a leader is a supportive coach with a growth mindset. Leaders welcome challenges and see failure as an opportunity to grow, both for themselves and others.
By practicing a growth mindset, you can also inspire others on your team to adopt it. A team with a growth mindset can handle the biggest challenges and progress through adversity.
Female leaders in the cannabis industry have the opportunity to set an example for future women executives and make real change happen. Every female leader in cannabis striving for equality and fair treatment has a chance to help push the cannabis industry to become the progressive space we expect it to be. If you are a woman considering applying for an executive position in the cannabis industry, now is the best time to do it.