Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as a sustainable business growth strategy are as essential to the Canadian cannabis industry's success as oxygen is to life!
These concepts are essential to rectify the damage done over the years to the people of colour and minorities through the war on drugs and other systemic barriers that have plagued BIPOC individuals and communities. Systemic racism has created inequality and social injustice that has been directly placed in the laps of minorities and people of colour in Canada and globally.
A policy brief released Oct. 14, 2020, by the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation and the University of Toronto looked at C-suite level executives, parent companies and licensed producers in Canada. The research reveals that two years after legalization, 84 percent of cannabis industry leaders are white and 86 percent are men. In addition, the report found that only 2 percent of industry leaders are Indigenous, and just 1 percent are Black.
It is still notably sad that Minorities are not yet fully represented in owning or participating in cannabis businesses within the Canadian landscape.
Consequently, the cannabis industry must embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition, we need to bring about social justice and fully utilize the human resources available to the industry, thereby speeding up its growth beyond the level it is now.
It refers to the differences among people operating within the cannabis industry. These differences include but are not limited to race, ethnicity, ideas, experiences, gender, sexuality, national and geographical backgrounds, disability/ability, age, religion, etc. These attributes will impact how any cannabis business is run and determine its success.
Equity has to do with treating all with the same measure of respect they deserve. Furthermore, to give all people every opportunity and benefit available, including equal rights to own and run cannabis businesses without favouritism or rejection based on their identities or differences.
Inclusion entails putting in place an atmosphere of involvement and interactions among the diversities existing and entering the industry. Every individual should have a sense of belonging, respect, and appreciation while being fully supported to contribute their quota to the success of the cannabis businesses. Inclusion is what makes diversity meaningful and valuable. Otherwise, it will create an unhealthy environment.
How Do We Get It?
In other words, how does an industry promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in cannabis businesses?
1. It begins with open recognition and appreciation of the diversity within every cannabis business and industry.
a. Then create awareness and educate people about the importance of all differences while promoting collaboration, interaction, and respect to all across the board.
b. It is excellent news to know that leaders in the cannabis industry are already working toward this direction by setting up task forces and committees responsible for implementing the concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the industry.
2. There should be transparency on a federal level on the diversity of the rates of diversity and inclusion in the Canadian cannabis industry, with a focus on ownership and leadership of Cannabis licensing.
3. Leadership and management structure in cannabis businesses must cut across all the strata of the company and must reflect the diversity and differences within its organization.
4. Create an environment within every business that supports all people with the freedom to express him or themselves without fear or the need to hide who they are from others.
In conclusion, no doubt, investing and committing to fully implementing the values of DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) will help cannabis organizations attract and retain diverse groups of highly talented individuals to work, run and own cannabis businesses.
If the cannabis industry is serious about correcting the adverse effects of the war on drugs in the industry promoting equality and social justice, then now is the time to invest in the concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion.