Courageous Women in Cannabis

February 16, 2021

Welcome to the CLEAResources ComplianceCommando™ blog! Today we explore the topic of the roles and challenges of the brave women in the cannabis industry.

The Arcview Group with the National Cannabis Industry Association recently sponsored a fantastic webinar titled “Building New Foundations in the Cannabis Industry: Creating Gender Parity Through Ownership, Leadership, Boards, Pay Equality, Branding, and Capital.” The panelists shared information on the state of the cannabis industry, and how to invest in the talents and knowledge of minorities, particularly women. Women play a substantial role in making decisions for the general population of consumers; not just consumers of cannabis products. Health care, household, and business decisions are largely impacted by the ideas, preferences, and solutions of women. Several talented CEOs discussed issues affecting women in cannabis including equity and access to capital. These business issues are of course not unique to the cannabis industry.

In a previous ComplianceCommando™ blog post, the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion was set forth in terms of corporate ethics and compliance and ESG. As one of the participants in the Arcview webinar stated, the cannabis industry had been branded as a “model of inclusivity.” The anecdotes from the webinar provide a background of encounters that women have had in different settings, and how those encounters failed to exemplify the values the cannabis industry had claimed. 

This begs the question of whether the industry has merely been branded as a model of inclusivity, or whether it can actually demonstrate that it is a model of inclusivity. Many believe there is still much work to be done. Cannabis companies must begin to address these issues as a matter of core corporate values and values-based business decision-making. If a company values gender parity, its internal and external standards, processes, and procedures need to reflect that core value. 

While profit is a core business focus, investors and consumers increasingly expect ESG issues to be addressed. The young generations who are just now coming into their buying power demand and expect business ethics at a whole new level. With the power of social media, they are able to quickly learn where companies stand on social issues, and the rebuke is swift and powerful when companies do not meet the bar. 

Another major topic discussed by women leaders of the industry was achieving gender parity and equity ownership. Charts from Marijuana Business Daily and other statistics of women in business were presented and analyzed. This led to the discussion of the steps and persistence needed to accomplish gender parity. In a paper authored by the Arcview presenters, Shanita Penny is quoted explaining that it is important for women who are starting businesses, especially in cannabis, to thoroughly understand the market and risks. Access to capital is key in this regard, as well, as new cannabis businesses need resources for skilled legal counsel and compliance professionals to advise them in the start-up phase and support them as they grow. 

CLEAResources is a woman and veteran-owned small business that provides legal risk assessments to companies in all industries and supports other small, women, minority, LGBTQIA+ and veteran-owned companies.

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