Key Findings From A Women In Cannabis Study: It's All About Helping, Community And Empowerment

By Kahshanna Evans, Director of Public Relations at Kissing Lions Public Relations, in partnership with the Women in Cannabis Study.

In all, removing barriers, eliminating sexism, discrimination and biasfrom the cannabis industry not only gives women the mental space to thrive personally, but it could give the cannabis industry the opportunity to catch up to newly defined success – as defined by 86% of women who have taken the Women in Cannabis Study who consider themselves successful.

Not only is this unheard collective redefining leadership but pre-report data suggests their definitions of success often mention helping others, providing for family and community, personal growth, stability, and happiness—the very pillars of what many hope will become the new norm starting with post-COVID business practices.

Jennifer Whetzel, author of the Women in Cannabis Study (WICS), which endeavors to support the cultivation of an equitable cannabis industry for everyon, commented that the sentiment of respondents has been eye-opening. Her favorite definition of success: “Everyone around me eats too.”

“To me, this summarizes the overall definition of success that women have for themselves as it involves community and empathy rather than just profitability and shareholder value. It means that success is something to share rather than to keep for yourself,” Whetzel said.

Some other key takeways from the report:

To date, we've had 955 respondents complete the study in the U.S. (786), Canada (113) and the UK (56). The study population is still underrepresented with women of color and with young women working in entry-level and staff positions. Initial top-line analysis has been completed on the U.S. data. We expect the final study results and market research reports to be available in early Fall.

Almost 600 women want to participate in a telephone interview to tell their story beyond the actual 20-minute quantitative survey.

This data is not yet final. The survey instrument is still open, and the data has not yet been fully analyzed by our research partner for deeper insight. This is how we will quantify women’s stories, turning anecdotes into data.

The data shows that equity is a significant issue in the industry - and is likely not an improvement over other industries such as finance or tech.

Whetzel also provided some initial, topline results from the U.S. data:

Top four reasons women choose to work in the cannabis/CBD/hemp industries: 

  1. passion for the plant, 
  2. using existing skills in a new industry, 
  3. being personally helped by cannabis use - 
  4. and in fourth place - financial opportunity.

The top three reasons - besides making money - that women are motivated to work in cannabis are: 

  1. to bring awareness to/fix social justice issues (38%), 
  2. use their talents to help others succeed (21%) and 
  3. teach others what they’ve learned (20%).

Top barriers to entry for all women (top 2 box): 

  1. obtaining resources & funding (68%), 
  2. being taken seriously (64%), 
  3. discrimination/lack of respect (62%), 
  4. and low pay (50%).

However, she also found some troubling patterns:

[Women] face huge sacrifices to enter and work in the industry: money/savings, time, health, relationships, and some even lose their freedom and custody of children. That’s on top of the shame they face for their choice of job or for their cannabis use.

Yet 86% of women consider themselves successful, and their personal definitions of success often mention helping others, providing for family and community, personal growth, stability, and happiness.

Women are saddled with needless struggles along their career journey in this industry that require significant emotional energy to battle - barriers to entry, sacrifices, villains, sexism, discrimination, bias, low pay & lack of benefits. 
"These issues are not necessarily unique to the cannabis industry. However, the data shows that at least for some equity measures - such as “opportunity for advancement,” this industry falls far below others. 

Only 29% agreed there’s the “same opportunity for advancement” for men and women - in comparison to 55% of women and 59% of men surveyed in the last McKinsey/’s study on women and equity in the workplace. 

Add the unique issue of shame - for cannabis use and for WORKING (64%) in the industry. 

In addition, 95% said that at least one self-esteem issue has affected their career.

Lead image by Ilona Szentivanyi. Copyright: Benzinga.

The preceding article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.


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