Cannabis Needs More Black & Brown Professionals: Prioritize Your Diversity Programs


As we have stated before, cannabis is suffering a major diversity program where black people, immigrants, minorities, people with disabilities, and women are severely under-represented in cannabis.

Growing Talent seeks to change this by offering our Social Equity Incubator to black and brown professionals who are eager to grow their business, gain education, and contribute to a more diverse cannabis industry.

Our organization is all about social equity. We believe that all people within society have the same status, which includes civil rights, equal access, and equal opportunities. We believe cannabis should include the whole society, and be representative of the fabrics of backgrounds, races, religions, languages, and ethnicities that have woven together to become America.

Be the cannabis business who makes a dent in the statistics be taking on some of these proactive strategies for creating a diverse workforce:

Pay Attention to the Statistics

Cannabis is all about data, and providing the market with insightful reports on diversity and employment gaps. MJBizDaily releases a Women & Minorities report that shows a snapshot of current diversity within the industry. Also, paying attention to cannabis-related job board sites like Vangst will gain you access to up-to-date statistics that shows where you need to push further in your diversity strategy.

Vangst recently released a salary and jobs guide that indicated the tremendous amount of growth, to the tune of 690%, of jobs in the cannabis industry just between 2017 and 2018. What was the one area that Vangst identified needed improvement? Diversity, of course.

“Given the industry is so young, current businesses and influencers in the space have the opportunity to build the cannabis industry into the most inclusive industry in the world,” said Vangst CEO Karson Humiston to Green Market Report, “Cannabis businesses need to build diversity recruiting programs and prioritize building highly diverse companies from the start. While we are seeing many companies do this well, there is room for improvement.”

Reach Out to Community Groups

America is one of the most diverse countries in the world, with 16.9% of the population being Latino/Hispanic; 12.6% being black; 5.2% being Asian, and 2.3% being considered mixed ethnicity. 62% of the U.S. population are white.

Community groups serve to create sub communities that celebrate and honor ethnicity, culture, language, religion and background. These are the groups that you should be integrating with as a cannabis business. Quite often, you will find people who have incredible amounts of education and experience who have recently come to the U.S. who can’t find viable employment, but are eager to work.

Hold a job fair within a local community group to ensure that you’re making your opportunities equitable to all Americans, or visit one of their meetings to get to know people of different communities on a deeper level.

Search Local Volunteer Bases

In 2015, the Department of Labor did a survey to determine how many Americans are volunteering. The survey found that 62.6 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2014 and September 2015. While there is a slight decline in patterns in volunteering, volunteers offer a unique resource to cannabis businesses.

Volunteerism shows a dedication to community improvement and a value towards corporate social responsibility or the corporate citizenship piece that we highlighted in the “Competencies of Successful Cannabis Entrepreneurs” article. These are values that should be featured within every cannabis company, as well as the people within.

Volunteerism also shows dependability, reliability, and commitment towards something greater than one’s self.

Highlight Your Equity Programs

Positioning yourself as an equal opportunity employer not only ensures you’re reaching your obligations for diversity within your organization, but it also attracts the customer that appreciates diversity in their sales experience.

Having an equity program that is on display through your website, printed materials, or even in-store/office notifications attracts a diverse work force that in the end helps your customer. If a customer speaks Urdu, your employee from Pakistan can help them understand cannabis in their own language. If your store is in a largely Hispanic area, having Latinos as part of your workforce will increase the likelihood you’ll attract more people if they can speak their own language.

Create Equitable Structures

Being an equal opportunities employer goes way beyond a diversity statement on your website or ensuring your workforce looks diverse. Equal opportunity means equal pay for equal work, and not allowing your infrastructure to favor one type of person over another.

Paying above the industry standard will ensure that you’re attracting, and retaining, your employees, as will providing opportunities for advancement and mentorship.

Make sure your organization, and your employees, have a place at the table where larger issues within the cannabis industry are discussed, so that your diverse workforce can speak for all diverse workers to ensure the equity the industry deserves.

Model the Way

Finally, model the way for the cannabis industry. If you have had a diversity strategy that has proven effective, share that with other cannabis entrepreneurs and business owners.

Showcase what you are doing in industry publications, social media forums, and participate as a speaker at an industry conference. The industry needs more entrepreneurs and business owners who have done diversity well to model the way.

Make Diversity a Priority

Earlier this year, writer D.M. Blunted commented on how black people (and minorities) are treated within the cannabis space. “No one celebrates their struggle,” she told The Her(B) Life, “And now, as the landscape changes, few offer space for inclusion.”

Be the cannabis business that changes this.