There’s a diversity problem in the cannabis industry. Many have already experienced the lack of diversity in other industries, so this story is not new. But why is this so important now? People of color, women and LGBTQ communities have decided about the cannabis industry, “Not again, not this time. We’re going to change this narrative.”
As a black woman of Afro-Latina decent, I’m unapologetic about entering a room and looking for color first. I’m seeking familiar faces, reflections of myself, a commonality and a welcoming nod that says, “I acknowledge you.” For far too long, whether in my professional or personal life, white people have ignored or overlooked me, so the nod lets me know I’m not alone. I also look for women and representation from the LGBTQ community. Yes, I conduct a tally, because I purposely want to know who’s in the room. The same is true when I attend conferences. I want to see who the speakers are and if they reflect our communities.
A Fast Company article in 2015 stated that millennials view diversity as blended experiences, cultures and perspectives. I agree. Our diverse cultures and backgrounds certainly bring a unique richness to the table. That said, it’s our responsibility to hold people and businesses accountable when there’s an imbalance. Being diverse is smart business; just look at TV commercials, and print and digital ads. Society has forced big business into diversity and inclusion—which ultimately benefits consumers and businesses’ global reach.
Out of the 3,000 dispensaries in the U.S., less than three dozen (1%) are black-owned.
Many have asked me why I work for Women Grow. The simple answer is I saw where I could make a difference. Together with our CEO, Kristina Garcia (formerly Neoushoff), and our amazing market leaders, we’re committed to seeing change in the cannabis industry. This year, we’ve assembled the most diverse market-leadership and headquarters teams since our inception in 2014. We still have work to do, but I believe we will get there as a team. It’s never too late to change. This doesn’t apply to only women of color, but to a more inclusive business environment overall.
Recently, Women Grow partnered with New Frontier Data on its first survey on diversity in the cannabis industry. It’s FUBU (for us, by us). I hope you’ll take the time to review this important piece of research at womengrow.com.
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