A woman’s role in business has evolved considerably over the past century. As the era of the housewife dissolved and women entered the business world by storm, many have since experienced a struggle to break through the corporate “glass ceiling”. Discrimination, pre-existing attitudes and the constant competition made the “glass ceiling” a controversial topic that was often swept under the rug.
Skip forward to present day, where women are truly shining in the business world. With more Owners, Founders and C level women business leaders than ever, the cannabis industry has not been neglected from the integration. As the industry forms at an alarming rate, so have the opportunities for driven and intelligent women to make a positive impact while rising to the top.
Within the legal cannabis industry, there is a diverse, broad cross-section of business opportunities that include not only internal segments such as dispensaries, cultivators, and labs, but also numerous ancillary businesses, including outsourced human resources, legal services, marketing and public relations, to name just a few.
Many of the voices supporting the cannabis industry are long-time advocates who have been driven by their passion for their civil rights and the overhanging health issues in our global community. Women have been a strong force at the forefront of this movement and are propelling the legal cannabis business at such a rapid pace, that there is no doubt that the cannabis industry could very well become the first female dominated multi-billion dollar global industry.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with several female thought leaders in the industry to gain their valuable insights and perspectives on how women truly are emerging as a dominant force and how other entrepreneurs can capitalize on this industry.
There’s No “Glass Ceiling’ in Legal Cannabis
Case in point, Giadha DeCarcer, an Ivy League-educated serial entrepreneur who obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree from Georgetown University, has 20 years experience in management, business execution, strategic business development, and has long focused on emerging markets. DeCarcer, a legal cannabis entrepreneurial powerhouse in her own right, identified a void in the legal cannabis industry–the lack of reliable and actionable data–and built New Frontier Financial into one of the leading “big data” research and technology companies in the industry.
“Given that women have been in many male-dominated industries struggling to be heard or to make as much of an impact as we may have desired, we have had much more of an incentive to enter a high-risk space such as the cannabis industry early on,” opines Giadha DeCarcer, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of New Frontier Financial.
I believe that this greater appetite to take a chance stems from our own risk-reward equation – we have less to lose and much more to win. As such, we have entered the industry guns blazing, educated, hungry and excited to finally have a clear path forward, with no glass ceiling, no ceiling period.
According to Pew Research, statistics show that women are graduating from college and receiving masters degrees in greater numbers than men. Likewise, the Small Business Administration reports that in part, because ten to twenty years ago, many women left their careers to raise a family are also now re-entering the workforce, the growth of new businesses created by women is increasing faster than that of men.
Advice for Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs
Jazmin Hupp, co-founder and executive director of Women Grow, an organization founded to connect, educate, and empower women in the cannabis industry, offers advice to women considering a career or launching a business in the legal cannabis industry:
We have a lot of amazing women in this industry. If you’re thinking about yourself personally, the first step is just to examine your own skill set. See what you’re really fabulous at. If you come from a marketing background, then looking at doing marketing in the cannabis industry is going to be a great first step.
Hupp continues, “If you don’t have professional expertise that lends itself to serving other businesses or serving the cannabis industry, then the first stop, honestly, is probably going to be getting a job with an existing cannabis company. That’s why a lot of folks come to our monthly events, to meet people in the cannabis community and get an understanding of which types of companies they might want to work for.”
Yoela Palkin, another female entrepreneur and co-founder of Wherefour, Inc., an innovative Silicon Valley-based cash-management and analytics startup catering to dispensaries observes, “As a female who’s grown up in the tech industry, I’m used to seeking out sectors with challenges that can be solved through new product development. There’s a huge opportunity [for women] to dive in and be one of the first innovators, but it also takes a strong work ethic and a deep understanding of your customers’ real issues.”
Final Words of Advice
While the legal cannabis industry has matured significantly over the years, medical and adult use is still illegal under federal law. Likewise, because laws and regulatory frameworks differ significantly from state to state, there still is somewhat of a “wild west” element to the industry. Consequently, authorities in the industry believe it imperative that aspiring entrepreneurs take their respective roles seriously and deliberately. According to Renee Harrison, Founder and CEO of Moguly Media:
For women who are new to the industry or established, I suggest they commit to learning as much as they can about the industry and keep up with the landscape as it continually involves. You can’t know everything, so define your niche and don’t ever stop learning.
Harrison further advises, “Take continuing education classes, attend conferences, and network through organizations such as Women Grow. Then contribute to the industry and your peers; share your knowledge with the world by mentoring others, contributing to publications, volunteering to be a guest on podcasts, and even consider writing a book. Not only will you be making a positive contribution to the legitimacy of the industry, but you will build your personal brand and business in the process.”