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Why Cannabis Businesses Should Consider Hiring a Diversity Officer

by Sarah Cawthon July 09, 2020

Recently, as protests have erupted across the country over the treatment of black people in the United States, a demand for companies to address racial inequalities and expand diversity has also increased.


Issues of diversity, inclusion and equity can be found across every level of a company. To help, more companies are now hiring diversity officers, a company’s diversity and inclusion strategist. This shift is occurring in companies and communities as a response to issues of diversity, inclusion, discrimination, harassment and the impact of globalization. shutterstock_1477336853


While we have seen a spike in social equity programs popping up across the country, and more and more cannabis companies have begun citing diversity and inclusion as an important component to their business, few strategies are actually in place to improve diversity and inclusion.


A diversity officer’s role is more than just recruitment. It includes working to optimize culture, aligning the company’s diversity and inclusion goals with business outcomes and responding to changes or policies that occur outside of the company that affect the company’s culture or employees and customers.


For cannabis businesses, companies must now shift their focus to broadening outreach, speaking to all of the diverse components of the US and providing people with products that appeal to all consumers, including those with different backgrounds, which will entice more people to participate in the legal cannabis market.


This means, cannabis businesses must also ensure that some products are affordable, and therefore accessible, to those in underprivileged areas. Hiring minorities on all levels of a company is an essential bridge to ensure authentic connections with underserved communities.


By hiring a diverse group of employees, they are able to speak directly to consumers who identify with them, which increases trust and sales. Minority consumers may feel more comfortable and not fear judgement when seeing and interacting with people who are similar to themselves in the cannabis space.


Many minority cannabis consumers still face stereotypes and lack of visibility in the industry. There is a power in connecting people with similar backgrounds. Minority employees and board members are able to articulate, empathize with and relate to issues affecting their community through a shared cultural context. Minorities can act as an open door into the cannabis industry. 


Diversity can also increase exposure to product, which increases value of the brand and company and adding to profits. Minority owned cannabis businesses are able to tap into lucrative communities that are currently being largely ignored by mainstream enterprises.  People of color are culture creators, and marketing campaigns aimed at a diverse audience will ultimately attract more consumers. unnamed-1


Diversity officers can be an invaluable addition to a leadership team, especially when organizations are trying to strategize new ways to shift their momentum, enter new markets and utilize untapped talent. Diversity officers bring a valuable perspective to the table and are able to mobilize a company to effectively engage employees and consumer, which can positively impact business outcomes. 


Diversity officers work hand in hand with community outreach specialists. Check out our templates for assistance with crafting your Marijuana Community Benefits Plan Template.