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How do we as a community foster diversity in the cannabis industry? Why does it matter? The latest social science research has been delving into the topic of diversity in workplaces, and it’s clear that the cannabis industry can benefit from diversity recruiting. Recruiters are the industry’s gatekeepers and affect the makeup of a company more than anyone else—they determine who belongs in the candidate pool.

With great power comes great responsibility. For those who are directly involved with hiring, understanding where the cannabis industry is and how it can improve is crucial. Here are a few truths about the industry that are important to understand:

Growth of the Industry

The cannabis industry is growing insanely fast.

What does that mean for you as a person involved in the hiring process? It means that talent is needed in large numbers, and it’s needed yesterday.

In 2018, the marijuana recruiting agency Vangst reported a 690% growth in job listings on their site. According to a study done by Leafly, the state of California alone added over 10,000 jobs. To cope with this level of demand, salaries in the industry had to grow, with an average salary increase of 16.1%. 

It is becoming clear that the trickle of candidates who are inherently interested in working in the cannabis industry is likely not able to satisfy the need for good talent.

Finding New Recruits

It’s time to convince people from traditional industries to move into the cannabis sector.

The stigma of cannabis, even as recreational marijuana policies continue to go into effect, prevents many applicants from considering this industry.

Cannabis can be a career, and it’s time to prove it. Previously, legal issues surrounding marijuana meant that cannabis professionals had to expose themselves to significant personal risk in order to progress.

While federal prohibition is still in effect, legal developments over the past few years have turned the cannabis industry into a much safer bet. The statewide legality of cannabis ensures that employees have recourse when treated unfairly, meaning that companies have been forced to mature and institute workplace policies that other industries abide by.

The cannabis industry is becoming more like other industries, and that’s a good thing.

The imbalance between the level of employment sought by the cannabis industry and the number of people applying for cannabis industry jobs means that recruiters must start reaching out to those who work in traditional industries.

Jobseekers working in banking, finance, the medical field, and contract law come with a great understanding of thorny legal issues and can apply this understanding well to cannabis.

Applicants who work in hospitality, retail, and food service are great at teamwork and are comfortable speaking with customers, as well as recommending products.

It’s a question of thinking outside the box and assessing the different skills that other industries require. Be creative! Many of those with non-cannabis backgrounds are able to apply their job skills effectively to cannabis roles.

Diversity in the Workplace

Why does diversity matter?

Diversity in the workplace has significant benefits — and they aren’t purely social. A study by BCG in 2017 showed that having diverse leadership teams helped companies innovate and increased revenue. It’s not just about surface-level diversity, either — country of origin, ethnic background, age, religious background, and sexual or gender diversity can all come into play.

For companies, increasing diversity in leadership positions can be a huge boon — which begins with entry-level role placement. When company or agency recruiters are not objective, their biases can create stress in the company and long-term financial losses.

While a look into the gender and ethnicity data in the cannabis industry could show which areas need to be improved upon, it is currently impossible to get a full picture of what the industry looks like. Sadly, because the U.S. does not collect demographic data for cannabis workers, it’s impossible to know what the data would show, or to make any racial or gender predictions as to the makeup.

The industry magazine MJ Biz Daily’s most recent study on this was back in 2017, but only covers the demographics of cannabis business owners and executives.

The data shows that there is a larger percentage of women in these roles than women in Congress, but there’s still room for improvement. Women make up 27% of female cannabis executives, and 26% of business owners. In California, the rate of female cannabis business owners is a moderately higher 34.5%.

Given that women make up 50.8% of the American population, this is somewhat concerning. It’s important to have gender parity in the workplace — and using a gender swap filter on a photo app doesn’t count.

The data on the racial demographic makeup of founders and owners shows that 81% are white. Compare this to the percentage of Asian founders and owners at 2.4%, African-Americans at 4.3%, and Hispanics at 5.7%.

California shows slightly more diverse numbers here, with the white majority at 76.6% and higher numbers for all other races. Still, this is a puzzling result when compared to the state’s demographics as a whole which show white non-Hispanics at 37.2%. This means that, in California, a cannabis business owner or founder is over twice as likely to be white as the general population.

The Candidate Conversation

How do you convince a candidate to apply for cannabis industry jobs?

Nobody wants to waste their InMail credits on a jobseeker who would never seriously entertain an offer from a cannabis company.

Think about using your first message to address some of the industry’s notorious failings — the lack of diversity, odd or extralegal business practices, and unprofessionalism. Explain that your company is different, and show how. Point them towards the green pastures of the cannabis business.

Once you’ve won over a candidate by proving that your company is different, sell them on the amount of opportunity available for those willing to take this minor risk. Cannabis is a growing industry (no pun intended) with endless possibilities. For those who are creative and motivated (and, yes, creativity takes courage), entering the cannabis industry is a smart move.

You know that. Now show your candidates.

Are you in the market for cannabis industry jobs, or are you interested in more cannabis content? Apply to People’s, Inc. today or follow us on LinkedIn.

If you’d like to know what cannabis can do for you, find out more about People’s OC on our website or stop by our Santa Ana store.