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Gender Equality In The Cannabis Industry: 'It's About Political Will And Cultural Education'

June 4, 2020 3:37 pm
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A panel of experienced cannabis executives and investors gathered at the Benzinga Virtual Cannabis Capital Conference on Monday to discuss ways of fostering gender inclusion and equality throughout the industry.

“It’s about political will and cultural education,” said Gaynell Rogers, founder and managing partner of Treehouse Global Ventures, who moderated the panel.

In the U.S., women are paid, on average, 20% less than men across all industries, Rogers said. This inequality is further exacerbated for minorities. 

“Black American women are paid 38% less than men and Latino women are paid 47% less,” she said. 

Increasing Opportunities For Women In Cannabis

Equilibra focuses on building not just a brand, but a community, said CEO Coco Meers. 

Equilibra was born out of a need to educate women in the use of CBD for the particular ways in which the female cannabinoid system functions. The company develops individualized dosage routines for customers who subscribe to their products.

“The majority of our cap table is female, the entirety of our board of directors is female, our lead investor is a woman. We are currently an all-female team,” said Meers.

Meers and co-panelist Andrea Brooks have built business models that are built around gender inclusion.

Brooks is the CEO of Sava, a cannabis market that provides deliveries to the San Francisco Bay Area. The company is committed to making sure that 50% of the brands on its platform are women-owned. Sava is female-funded and female-led.

Offering Support, Advice To Women Colleagues 

Brooks said she regularly mentors women CEOs who are looking to raise capital as a way to give back and provide support to the female ecosystem.

In her her mentoring, Brooks said she draws advice from her own experience, having faced difficulties raising capital from a male-dominate audience in the past.

“Ask for what you really need, not for what you think you should ask. In general, women need to be more bold asking for the funding that they need.”

Equilibra’s Meers said that she has also experienced difficulty dealing with certain areas of the business that are male-dominated, like banks and financial institutions.

Yet he fundamentals of the cannabis business are strong enough for her company to be able to consistently secure capital, she said. 

“We’ve seen first hand how challenging it can be for women to raise capital, for women to get the advice and counsel that they need around their business model if they don’t come from a traditional business background.”  

For these reasons, she and her co-founder Marcy Capron Vermillion are active investors and advisors in the cannabis space.

The CEO manages an angel fund, Rebelle Collective, which is focused on female founders.

Lead image by Ilona Szentivanyi. Copyright: Benzinga.

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