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Women in Cannabis: Being a Strong Female Leader in a Male-Dominated Industry

women leaders in cannabis

The cannabis industry is seen as a progressive space, but it’s still heavily run by white males like any other industry. From a gender-equality perspective, the grass isn’t much greener on the cannabis side of the business world. However, there are plenty of strong women in cannabis that are stellar examples of entrepreneurial leadership. What can other women learn from them and how can women occupy more executive positions in cannabis?

Cannabis careers for women seem to have ceilings, as there are not enough females at the decision-making table in the industry. Our cannabis staffing agency would like to help the women out there who are passionate about the cannabis industry find cannabis careers at the top levels. Cannabis is hiring for leadership roles all the time, but mostly men fill the positions. In addition to our cannabis executive staffing services, we’d like to provide advice for women in cannabis trying to climb the ladder. 

Two women discussing cannabis job industry

Live Outside Your Comfort Zone

Success is typically found outside of your comfort zone, so learning to live in novel surroundings and facing new challenges is important. Women in cannabis will continue to face obstacles, and those brave enough to go against the norm will elevate their cannabis careers. Asking for new responsibilities, taking the lead when no one is stepping up, or applying for positions that are not a 100% match–but will propel your career–are all ways to live outside your bubble. The fear of failure will be there whether you try or not, so you might as well try. 

The 2020 Fortune 500 list revealed that there were 37 female CEOS–a record high. In comparison, there were 463 CEO positions held by males. Although there are more women in leadership positions now, there is still a wide gap to close. For women in cannabis, taking the first step outside of your comfort zone is key. Start small–like volunteering to lead a project or suggesting a new strategy–to build confidence in showcasing your skills. Once you get used to being outside of your comfort zone, being scared will turn into excitement. 

Woman standing leading cannabis board meeting

See Equality as a Reality 

Mindset is the root of everything you do, controlling what is possible. Women in cannabis should have the mindset of seeing equality as a reality. Throughout many cannabis careers, women have experienced wage gaps, lost promotions, and have been replaced for unjust reasons. However, acting like there is equality in the workplace or the cannabis industry, in general, will empower you. And your mindset of seeing equality will make it easier for others to accept it, especially those who oppose it. 

The point is not to ignore inequality, but to encourage equality for women in the cannabis workplace and beyond. Lead your company to achieve equality in the workplace and make a positive impact. Speak up for those who are being discriminated against because of their gender or race and help other women adopt an equality mindset so they can see themselves as equal. If women feed the male-dominated world of cannabis, it will continue to be so. Cannabis is definitely hiring, but women need a better chance at getting more cannabis executive roles. By seeing equality as a reality, you’ll help women in cannabis progress–and help the cannabis industry progress, too. 

Woman holding a cup with printed text like a boss

Be Confident in Your Talent & Skills

Although women in cannabis don’t have enough leadership roles, they would make exemplary leaders. The Harvard Business Review reported a study that showed women scored higher in 17 of the 19 capabilities that separate excellent leaders from mediocre ones. Some of those capabilities include taking initiative, inspiring others, and innovation. However, in the male-dominated cannabis industry, women in cannabis have to emphasize their talents and skills.

Volunteer to take the lead for projects and lean on quantifiable success from the past to get the green light. The more you show your company that you take initiative and bring about success, the more reasons you’ll collect to discuss promotion opportunities. There is an unconscious bias that prevents leaders from giving women senior leadership positions. And that’s not going away anytime soon. Don’t wait for someone to encourage you to apply for a c-level cannabis position or ask for a pay bump that you know you deserve. Having confidence in your talent and skills will allow you to live outside your comfort zone. Be the example for other women in cannabis and go for it. 

CannabizTeam all hands support

Value Your Team

One of the best reasons that cannabis should be hiring more women for leadership roles is their natural empathy. Live Science reported that females scored significantly higher in terms of empathy based on a study of 47,000 people. Since women do have more natural empathy, they will be more likely to value their team, leading to more potential to succeed in a variety of ways. Empathy is one of the most important soft skills our cannabis staffing agency pays attention to when recruiting. 

By having a leader that knows how to value their team, the company’s team members will feel more appreciated, creating a more open and positive environment. Even if you don’t have a leadership job title, you can still be seen as a leader. And being seen as a leader will help you climb the ladder when you go for a cannabis executive role. It’s easier for women in cannabis c-level roles to recognize the unique skills of their employees and acknowledge them. Through valuing each team member, each cannabis employee will be more inclined to do their best and work well as a unit to make the leader proud. This is not to say that men cannot be empathetic, but rather a note that it comes easier for women. 

According to Leafly reports, there are 321,000 full-time cannabis jobs as of January 2021. There’s no doubt that cannabis is hiring and growing. However, cannabis needs to set the example for other industries by hiring more women in leadership positions. Our cannabis staffing agency works diligently to shine the light on the best female cannabis executive talent in the industry. 

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