Happy Monday Canna Fam. Thank you for the incredible support so far! Now as a few of you may already know, I have a few other passions that are right up there with cannabis! Before I joined this Industry, I was working as a barista for 6 years. While I can’t wait to share more about my love for coffee and cannabis, I am telling you this because I left a predominantly female industry (in my experience) and joined one that is predominantly male.
In my current position at GreenPlanet, I travel around state to state promoting our nutrients. This requires cruising the US visiting hydroponic stores, attending cannabis events, and touring select grows. In other words, I am constantly surrounded by men! So often in fact, when I see a woman involved in a hydroponic store or grow, I practically make sure we are best friends by the time that I leave. It is very rare that I find myself hanging out with the ladies (thank god for plants)! Now I have nothing against men and I have never considered myself a feminist, but I would still love to interact with more women throughout this career choice and be challenged by other amazing women on the regular.
I honestly thought because of the lack of females in this industry, I would have an advantage when it comes to being heard. Imagine walking into stores where sometimes 5-10 men just stop what they are doing and stare at you as you enter. This seems pretty powerful right? Not so much. Unfortunately, I was not seen for my sales skills or product knowledge, but more seen as one of few “cannabis girls”. Just like any hard worker in the industry doing their best, it isn’t a great feeling when the attention you are attracting is based on your gender, and not the products you represent. Now, don’t worry, I also learned something that some people may be less willing to admit during their first year on the job. I learned that people will treat you how YOU allow them to, and that this has nothing to do with your gender. I learned how to demand the right attention, the sort of attention that’s focused on my products and knowledge, and I eventually felt less and less “intimidated” by the fact that I am one of few females among many men!
I would now like to point out an example where I would like men, if this applies to you, to take a little more accountability and touch on an issue that I believe needs to be more understood across the board. While talking business, if a woman hands you her business card, unless otherwise stated, it is not an invitation to flirt. Business cards are expensive, and I purchase them so that I can sell nutrients and get people some great product. I do not give out business cards to get hit on after I leave a store, or after a man has left my booth at an event. Now a question for the men, and more importantly my hydroponic stores right now. Have you ever had a female rep come into your store to sell her products, and then call the store trying to get your number later? My guess is going to be no, but you know we all have different goals at the end of the day. If I am wrong about this, let me know. I am seriously up for the conversation and I will fully admit if I am mistaken. Moral is, if I hand you my business card, let’s do business and not let our genders get in the way of us sharing the same passions.
Now the example I just used was mild, and fortunately does not occur as often as the one I am about to give. Men, once again, I am talking to you right now when I ask this question. How often do you find yourself having a conversation with 2 other people within the industry, but yet you cannot seem to get eye contact from both of them when you are speaking? Please feel free to answer this question by e-mail. I cannot tell you how many times I have been introduced by a member of my team to a gentleman inquiring about a product during an event, and the poor man just cannot seem to find my face. Don’t worry, he was not looking at my boobs, he just seems to think that because there is a man next to me, he must have a better answer or a better way to communicate. I will say that probably 90% of the time this gentleman is over the age of 50. However, this is no excuse! This industry is evolving fast, and the way that we communicate has to evolve as well. My voice should not only be heard, but respected and acknowledged directly as I have that same respect for any human that I talk to, regardless of gender. With mutual respect comes mutual success, so let’s all create a win-win scenario together!
Overall, I am disappointed in the lack of women in this industry. All genders are equally amazing, yet still offer really different values, insights, and overall knowledge to an industry that simply needs it. Growing Exposed is a perfect example of a platform that is entertaining across the board. I do not care what gender you are, Jeremy and his crew do an incredible job and it is really fun and educational to watch, yet %92 of the viewers are men. This is fascinating to me, and I hope that this begins to change, and in the men’s defense, I hope that women choose to get involved more and educate themselves as much as men have shown an effort too with these kinds of resources. If you watch the show and enjoy it, please share it and if you know of women that are interested in growing, get them involved! We need to efficiently destigmatize the fear that comes with a previously illegal plant, and realize that in order to grow within legalization, we have to support this plant as a team.
In closing, I want to make it very understood that I do not let my gender define my success, or my failures for that matter. Being a female had nothing to do with why I got the position I got today in this industry. If it were not for my ability to connect to people, I may have lost this position to someone who could, whether they be male or female. I simply want to be respected for who I am as a person, and the amount of hard work I put into everything I do. I want women to be lifted up and encouraged to join such an amazing family of individuals the way that I believe they should be. I would be naïve to ignore the level of challenges I have had to face to find the resilience and strength to make a name for myself in this cannabis industry, and I hope that that this encourages all badass women out there to be brave enough to do the same!
“SImply put, we need more women in the cannabis industry. Having diversity is critical to the success of any company or even industry as a whole. Women bring a unique perspective and often a different approach to business than their male counterparts. Research shows that companies and industries that support diversity and encourage women in leadership are more successful than those that are too heavily weighted to having an excess of males in these roles. Today, the cannabis industry has far too many males compared to females both working in entry level and leadership positions. Those of us in a position to be a part of changing the demographic in our industry need to get active and effect change.”
-Male COO at Cannabis Company
“Being a woman in cannabis definitely brings it’s challenges and rewards. As a woman I have to work harder to prove my knowledge and experience, but I believe once that’s established I have a stronger reputation because there are so few women. Many times I must shrug or laugh off comments based on my appearance, but usually it’s nothing serious and passes quickly. But I wonder if male representatives get hit on daily? It’s definitely something to have to deal with because that attention isn’t productive in a business setting. I cherish all of my friendships in the industry and most of them are with men. My lady friends in cannabis though… They get me like no others and have become some of my best friends that I truly believe will last a lifetime.”
-Female Cannabis Sales Representative
“I have worked my way from the bottom to the top and it wasn’t easy by any means. I feel I have had to and continue to have to work twice as hard to get the same acknowledgement, that is valued as a man. I do see this changing as our industry evolves and I see my hard work and effort paying off and my opinion being valued. “
“Diversity as a whole brings success. -Reports have found that when companies commit themselves to more diversity within the workforce they are more likely to improve employee morale and become more profitable. It is up to us as men in positions to encourage and proactively implement Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DEI) plans within our companies. Forbes has stated that Women are consuming cannabis at an equal rate or more than men. Insights attained from CannbisConsumer.org, so it makes sense to have a team built around the target audience. Not only that but diversity encourages lateral thinking with overcoming hurdles and I want to leave on this article of why a lack of diversity can harm a business. This Viral Video Of A Racist Soap Dispenser Reveals A Much, Much Bigger Problem. You may feel like this doesn’t correlate with your business or industry but it does as it’s a reminder of when thinking linearly can affect your business negatively.”
-Male Creative Director
“A male dominated industry can always be intimidating for a woman. Me, I like the challenge. But not just the challenge of working predominantly with males, but the challenge of taking over, regardless of gender. Yes we will go through the trials and tribulations of being a female in cannabis, and it can eat you alive, but that’s any situation in life if you don’t go about it right. I must say though…. my females in this industry are savage ladies who get shit done and are some of my favorite people in the industry.”
-Female Hydroponic Store Owner
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