In October 2017 Marijuana Business released the results of a survey on women in the cannabis industry. The survey found that women held 37% of executive-level roles in the cannabis industry. This was a milestone that women throughout the industry celebrated with excitement and promise as many women leaders began to plot the path to achieving 50% in five years.
These numbers were used to encourage women across the country to leave their traditional, corporate jobs and find a place where they could contribute their skills to the growing industry. The high gains made activists believe that women really could hold power in a lucrative and dominating industry. The numbers inspired women to apply for licenses and open ancillary businesses, hoping to be among those benefiting from such strong industry support.
The bubble burst in August 2017 when Marijuna Business announced those numbers had dropped to 27%. It was still considered a win as U.S. business as a whole women only comprise 24% of executive positions. But it wasn’t a win, it was a sting and it reverberated throughout the community. Women started leaving cannabis faster than they were coming in.
Then came another blow. A Vangst survey in 2019 revealed only 17.6% of women surveyed held a Director or Executive Role. 2020 took women in the U.S. out of the workforce in droves and now one in four is considering not returning to work. It isn’t just the cannabis industry that is suffering a loss of female talent.
The future’s looking grim for those women still working in cannabis. In March 2021 Benzinga released a report saying that only 8% of CEOs in cannabis are women! Women are truly losing ground in cannabis…fast.
So what are women supposed to do about this loss of power? How do they stop this power drain from continuing? How bad can it get if it isn’t stopped? What incredible opportunity are they protecting if they get in and fight for it?
Power, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is the possession of control, authority, or influence over others. Possessing power, pursuing power and craving power are all seen through this lens, an exercise of influence over others. This can be unsettling or intimidating for women and can make them hesitant to hold onto power or wield it effectively.
Another definition of power is a source or means of supplying energy. If we view it through this lens we see it as our flow of energy contributing to the creation of the industry. It isn’t just about having influence, per se, but having a consistent and strong flow of energy filling the cannabis industry – from women. This is how women will create the industry they have dreamt of since 2017.
One of the most effective tools women have to create more power is Collaboration or working together for a common goal. Merriam-Webster defines it as: To cooperate with an agency or instrumentality with which one is not immediately connected.
Collaboration is full of challenges. From personality clashes, to broken promises, and failed expectations, working with others is full of pitfalls. It’s also the key to creating a power source that has an impact. If women align themselves for a common purpose, to Pay, Promote, Partner & Protect one another, their power or energy source will be strong and undeniable in the industry.
The Women Empowered in Cannabis (WEIC) Leadership Summit: Power & Collaboration will be taking a deep dive into the power dynamics and collaboration challenges along the cannabis supply chain. While it’s easy to see from the statistics from a top level it’s not as obvious how these power losses are occurring throughout the industry. Examining the unique dynamics on each part of the supply chain and shining a light on them is the first step in taking back the power women have lost over the last few years.
For more information on the WEIC Leadership Summit: