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XX leadership in Cannabis

Updated: Dec 9, 2020

The cannabis industry has created a movement within the business world for many women. Cannabis has given a platform that has allowed for many female executives to make their dreams of running businesses a reality, allowing more female leadership roles at the executive level than any other industry globally. The proverbial "boys club" has been closed it seems in Cannabis, and new foundations have been built on the backs of strong female leadership.

Nearly 37% of the senior-level jobs at cannabis companies are held by women, according to a Marijuana Business Daily survey in 2019

But in reality, industry experts suggest that more competitive markets such as cannabis, favor businesses with men at the helm, primarily because historically men have more established access to capital. This begs the question, how "closed" is the boys club? In order to survive, money and resources are required for expansion. This money, more times than none, often comes from private capital markets, such as family investment offices and venture capital firms – which just happen to be largely male-dominated industry.

So how is it that nearly 40% of the cannabis industry is being dominated by Female leadership?

Often times in emerging markets, there is a need for rapid expansion in young companies. This "rapid" expansion leeds to key positions in sales, marketing or operations being filled by whomever is available and sadly, this often leeds to friends and family members being considered for essential C-Level positions. Often times nepotism has been the biggest failure within any system, let alone an emerging industry. But, this nepotism also gives rise to those who are tired of playing second fiddle and are willing to recreate the rules in favor of their historically less than favorable disposition.

In truth, most people live in fear, especially when choosing their career paths, and the cannabis industry as a whole is an unknown. This creates anxiety for men that have historically rode their paths to greatness on the coattails of others that happen to be more brilliant. This has given rise to those who have not been given those same chances, those that have had to claw their way up each and every new pathway. This is in essence the ideal situation for female leaders that are willing to swim against the current, and do not fear being tied to a potentially losing team.

Many women have launched companies in places like Colorado, where recreational cannabis use has been legal for years. Some entered the field early and, in many cases, built the very foundations that national brands will be built upon, and that makes you wonder what is going to happen once the more secured corporate players try to push them out of the market? What will happen if larger companies with more fiscal muscle and more political clout step in to take a turn, are women going to lose their ground? .

Often times in Corporate America you will hear the same story from leading female roles

“In a meeting, I offer a thought or idea that I think is valuable. There is no response. A few minutes later a man says the same thing and the other guys think it’s brilliant.”

This may come as a surprise to some men that are reading this blog, but in truth, women often feel that their comments don’t get the same response as a man’s – and that their ideas are often “stolen” and these feelings often have merit. So again, I pose the following question, what is so different in Cannabis and why are women naturally fit to dominate the executive roles from within? My thoughts again swing towards small business "startups mentality" of "Strike while the iron is hot" and hiring practices that often rely upon nepotism and fear. This mentality has created Goliaths of industry, and they just happen to be of the XX chromosomes and I personally feel that this movement is one of the best things to ever have had happened to our industry.

Honesty, it seems that women are tired of working in industries where the rules are preset—and stacked against them. Cannabis allows for women a clean start in industry, where roles are historically owned by legacy accounts, accounts held by male "leaders", cannabis is the wild west, and there are no established maxims, the normative behaviors are dictated by the gunslingers and less by the bankers and this creates a unique opportunity for women to recreate the rules.

As a person that was raised by strong women, I eagerly await this next chapter of Cannabis, I can't wait to see how leadership roles pivot in order to meet with outside interference, and I can only assume that XX chromosomes will remain at the helm. I would love to hear your thoughts and stories of strong female leadership roles within the cannabis industry. Until next time, the truth will set us free!

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