Would you be surprised to know that the cannabis industry has more women in management roles than other industries? The emerging cannabis industry is showing early signs that women will be playing a full role. That’s in stark contrast to other industries, such as high technology start-up companies funded by venture capitalists where women account for just 9% of the leaders according to a 2016 Harvard Business Analytical Report. That’s a very low total when you consider that women account for around half of the workforce. Yet in the cannabis industry, the numbers paint a very different picture.
A report from the Marijuana Business Daily indicates that female executives account for up to 63% of employees in the rapidly growing sector of cannabis analytical testing labs. Female executives account for 48% of the total in the sector making infused edibles and concentrates. These are far higher than the 9% of female leaders in venture-capital high tech start-ups. But why?
One theory is that the cannabis industry already contains a high percentage of progressive liberal thinkers. Cannabis users are often philosophical thinkers that have long-since abandoned outdated gender stereotypes. On top of that, cannabis is a new industry. That means it is less likely to be influenced by established male-led business networks and ‘boys clubs’. Contrast the relatively new cannabis industry with other industries such as the world of entertainment which has been damaged by the #MeToo scandal. One advantage of the cannabis industry is that there is less entrenched male-dominated decision-making and less exclusively-male management structures.
That isn’t to say the cannabis industry is perfect. A visit to a cannabis expo can still produce bikini-wearing (or topless) women handing out leaflets. Much progress remains to be made, but at least women are able to view the cannabis industry as one which offers a more level playing field than many other industries.
The report from the Marijuana Business Daily also provides another revealing statistic. Women hold 36% of leadership positions in the cannabis industry. That’s significantly more than the 22% average for U.S. companies in general. Of course, these figures are just from the USA. But since that is the worlds biggest legal cannabis industry it is relevant data. Clearly, women are playing a more important role in the cannabis industry than many others. And with so many women already present in senior roles in the cannabis industry, it seems logical that this will continue. Perhaps the cannabis industry will be one of the first to become genuinely female-led from top to bottom. After all, according to Pew Social Trends, women have been out-performing men academically since 1994.
The cannabis industry is only just enjoying legal growth after decades of prohibition. But already it is clear that women are playing an important role. Roles in cannabis companies are being filled by well-qualified people, regardless of gender. In older industries, it tends to be male-dominated boards and traditions that dominate the hiring of new staff and the promotion of existing staff into management. In the USA alone, women are thought to be responsible for 70-80% of consumer spending. And with the cannabis market expected to grow by 150% by 2021, it seems only natural that women will be valuable employees for any fast-growing and successful cannabis company.
Lots of women grow and breed cannabis plants. One of the largest female-led networks for the cannabis industry is WomenGrow. This has an annual sell-out leadership conference in Washington DC where women can meet, inspire and connect with like-minded women in the cannabis industry. Local and national events are held. Vacancies are offered to and filled by, women in every area from Director to Head Grower. Some of these stories are making into the mainstream media. The LadyBug documentary explains how some of the best west-coast women growers have made the difficult transition from illegal to legal growers. Women can grow cannabis every bit as effectively as men. And many female-led companies are doing extremely well, this list shows 11 cannabis companies that were set up and run by women. Each company is a leader in its own field.
In the USA, in particular, there has already been a strong focus on cannabis products, such as creams and ointments for female needs. Everything from skin creams, to THC patches to reduce menstrual cramping is available. Also available are beauty products and specific products for the menopause. The cannabis industry is set for global growth as medical and recreational cannabis products become increasingly important. Perhaps the cannabis industry will lead the way in opening more opportunities for female entrepreneurs and leaders. The good news is that the cannabis industry is starting out in a healthier way than many other older industries.
The story of Attitude Seeds is a great example of how women have succeeded in the cannabis world. Attitude Seeds are a major seed reseller, offering seeds from the worlds better breeders. Not many people know that Attitude Seeds is owned and run by Natalia and that 90% of her team are women. The following words are from Natalia.
“I got the Attitude job through the recruitment agency I once worked for. It was supposed to be temporary work for me, but within a couple of weeks I was promoted to an office manager and a couple of months later I was running the Attitude Seeds company. Everything happened organically. After a while, I was offered the chance to buy the business, which I did.”
“I just got sucked into it to the point I could not see myself doing anything else. Actually, I still can’t. I think most people who work in this business would agree that once you are in it, it is very hard to leave. The loyalty and appreciation from the customers are priceless.”
“When I came to my first Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam 10 years ago I felt a little overwhelmed and maybe slightly intimidated. There were almost no women in the industry at that time, let alone in charge. In fact, I don’t think I dealt with a single female at this event. Most people I came across were lovely, but not everyone took me seriously at first. Perhaps I need to add that I was also only 20 years old at the time which I believe could have been one of the reasons for it”
“Things changed relatively quickly as the success of the company was undeniable. We quickly became the largest cannabis seeds superstore in the world and every seed company wanted to be sold on our website. The fact that they had to deal with a woman to make it happen did not matter to anyone ( or at least nobody has ever told me that it did) Over the years I have built great business relationships and I have never felt like my gender was an obstacle. Till this day however, people are usually very surprised to find out ‘The Attitude’ is owned by a woman.”
“Whenever I appear anywhere on the video or post a photo of myself on our social media majority of people assume I am a hostess or the owner’s wife at the very best.
Over 90% of our team has always been composed of women. Yet almost every day we receive an email with ”Hey bro”, “Thanks bro” etc. People automatically assume we are men. We don’t take offense obviously, but it just shows how male-dominated the cannabis world still is even in the eyes of the public. “
“There are definitely way more women working in the industry now, often in management positions. There are some excellent female breeders out there and successful business owners in different areas of the industry. There are plenty of female activists and associations educating and connecting women from all over the world within our sector. I think in the upcoming years we will see more and more women playing larger roles in the cannabis world which I am personally very excited for.”March 7th 2019