Best Practices

Does Your Cannabis Dispensary Have A Proactive Approach To Diversity And Inclusion?

In any professional industry, diversity and inclusion are important

In any professional industry, diversity and inclusion are important concepts that are making their way to the top of employment agendas.

While it may seem rudimentary, people often think about race when thinking about diversity, but diversity is much more. Diversity encompasses the following aspects: race, gender, ethnic group, age, personality, ability, cognitive style, tenure, organizational function, education, background and more.

The cannabis industry is one that is lacking in the representation of minorities and people of diverse backgrounds, with only 20% of cannabis businesses being owned by minorities as reported by Marijuana Business Daily. Similarly, the cannabis industry is seeing leadership positions within businesses being held 75% by males, showing that the cannabis industry is starting to see a fall in women leaders (9-percentage points since 2015!) to be only 23%.


The Economic Value of Diversity Programs

McKinsey and Company, a data insights group used facts to demonstrate the importance of diversity and inclusion programs in affecting the bottom line:

  • In comparison to their competitors, companies who rank in the top quartile for their ethnic and racial diversity and inclusion approaches gain 35% more financial returns; with higher gender diversity, they gain 15% more in financial returns;
  • For every 10% increase in ethic and racial diversity on the executive team, a company can expect earnings to rise 0.8% before taxes and expenses;
  • Companies in the U.S. who are implementing diversity and inclusion programs are more likely to see a positive bottom line improvement with more racial and ethnic diversity than gender diversity, likely because gender diversity programs of previous decades have already yielded positive results
  • There is currently no industry that is doing better than another for their diversity and inclusion programs

The report highlights the need for more diversity and inclusion programs to be undertaken by all kinds of companies in the United States, promising positive economic growth with growth in diversity at executive levels.


Increasing Diversity and Inclusion in Your Cannabis Dispensary

Sadly, not enough businesses are aware of the benefits of a proactive diversity and inclusion approach when hiring. With no business currently presiding in their diversity and inclusion approaches, there is a big opportunity to be had for cannabis to lead in diversity.

Here are some ideas for increasing diversity and inclusion in your cannabis retail space:


Assess Your Level of Diversity in Your Retail Space

Making a thorough assessment of your diversity isn’t just about counting heads and checking off boxes. Larger employers may consider consulting with a Workplace Diversity Specialist who will be able to conduct a formal assessment that will produce a data-based report on your diversity. These assessments vary from informal, to rubrics, to more formal scales used to assess levels of diversity and inclusion.

The consultant may use a variety of methods to assess your diversity and inclusion within your cannabis business, including doing employee satisfaction surveys, or having employees self-declare their gender, race, ethnic background, abilities/disabilities, languages, etc.


Make a Plan to Increase Diversity & Inclusion

Once your cannabis business has assessed its level of diversity, make an action plan on how you can improve the level of diversity and inclusion within your employment team. Diversity and inclusion starts at the top and goes down, so must first and foremost be promoted within executive levels at your business. Take proactive methods to recruit people of diverse backgrounds in executive positions.


Increase Scope and Visibility of Minorities

Minorities are something to be celebrated, and if you are a dispensary or cannabis business that is working to increase the visibility of minorities within the cannabis business, shout it from the rooftops.

Diversity and inclusion aren’t about tokenism, but about taking a meaningful approach in recruiting people of different backgrounds and integrating their perspectives into your business operations.

Have your cannabis featured in publications, write about your approach in your blog, or make an advertising campaign that features the diverse people within your organization. The goal is not only to show what’s possible through proactive diversity programs but to become an organization others want to emulate.


Celebrate the Diversity People Bring

Having different cultures, abilities, languages, religions, and genders within your workplace is something to be celebrated. Ask your employees to introduce parts of their culture into their workplace. Advertise that you offer employees with various languages so to be able to offer the opportunity for customers to speak to their budtender in their own language.

Celebrate holidays other than the regular Christmas-Easter-St. Patrick’s Holidays to include other holidays celebrated by other cultures. Celebrate International Women’s Day, World Religions Day, Cinco de Mayo, Pride Day, Disability Independence Day, or other holidays that celebrate important occasions across diverse groups.


Be Respectfully Inclusive & Promote Your Space as a Safe Space

A diversity and inclusion strategy requires total organization buy-in, where people won’t stand in a place of resistance to increased diversity. Employee training programs that focus on diversity can help increase the competencies around diversity and tolerance.

Show that you are a safe space by posting safe space signs, and ensure you’re helping to promote inclusion by offering gender-neutral bathrooms if possible.


Be a Leader

The cannabis industry is astute to the fact that we need to take more proactive strategies to increase the visibility of people of diverse backgrounds, genders, and abilities. It’s important to note that no industry is yet presiding in their approaches to being the most diverse. This is cannabis’ opportunity. What will you do to increase diversity and inclusion in your cannabis business?

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