By Rachel (they/them)
Given the current political and socio-economical climates, the topic of inclusion is on everyone’s mind. As an industry that is quickly reaching the pinnacle of popularity, those who work in cannabis have a necessity to be an advocate for those who are underrepresented. As someone who has been a part of the LGBTQ+ community for most of my life, my views on community inclusion have been shaped by my environment and the growth of inclusive and protective laws. This has shaped my perspective.
In order to be truly inclusive, cannabis companies need to be held liable for themselves, as well as those they choose to work with. We are at a point where more minority-led companies are becoming mainstream, and choosing not to partner with those and/or purposefully choosing companies that do not have inclusive values will have a negative impact on sales, employee turnover, and general public image. In order for companies to be well-received by the community, their vertical integration (product to purchasing to production to sales) also needs to be held accountable for their actions and values.
Having a good reputation with your employees who are a part of the community is a key pillar as well, but this will come with hard work. Each LGBTQ+ employee will have different ideas of what would make the workplace most comfortable for their needs; talk to past, current, and future team members and make your diversity plans work for them. Making an inclusivity plan that does not automatically include those excluded is merely pointless, and frankly a waste of time and resources. Being educated professionally is necessary for managers and above, as they need to understand their subordinates as individuals and how they work with a team. Making them feel safe, secure, and supported will result in employee and company growth.
Most importantly, companies who are vocal about their support of the LGBTQ+ community need to put action behind their words. It is meaningless to the public to not put money where your mouth is; donating to causes that actively support queer rights, same sex marriages, LGBTQ+ teen hotlines, and non-profits of this nature is a surefire way to let the public know that your company is serious about its values. Continual support of the community is how to continue to stay relevant in the public eye.
These three concepts are adaptable to most industries, but are of the utmost importance in the cannabis industry, as our foundation lies on minorities who have suffered for our growth. Staying true to the openness and acceptance of the industry is crucial for continued acceptance and growth throughout the United States, and the world.