Despite the influx of legalization and consumer interest and acceptance, people of color are increasingly being left out of the green rush. Now more than ever, it is important that entrepreneurs and cannabis businesses make social justice a pillar — even a necessity — of how they approach diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
When employees who are different from their colleagues are given the opportunity to flourish, the company benefits from their ideas, skills and engagement, according to SHRM/Economist Intelligence Unit research. The retention rate of those workers also rises.
To that end, here are three practical strategies for cultivating an inclusive environment.
1. Cultivating Culture Over Quota
Hiring goals may boost diversity numbers, but that won’t automatically create an inclusive culture. To retain top talent, it’s important to take an honest look at the end-to-end employee experience, with the end-goal of creating conditions that promote inclusion with every interaction.
2. Establish a Sense of Belonging
For individuals to bring their best performance to the table every day, they must feel a sense of purpose and belonging. Having a connection to an organization or group of people that makes you feel you can be yourself not only results in greater engagement and creativity in the workplace, it’s a psychological need.
3. Beyond a Top-Down Approach
From senior leaders to collaborative employees, every individual must understand their role in company culture. This means identifying differences in employee experience and values across the organization so that change can be made relevant for each person and knowing that lasting change must activate different parts of the system — top down, bottom up, and middle out — in different ways.
It’s no secret that the cannabis industry still has much work to do in terms of building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce. It is our responsibility as industry professionals to identify and acknowledge the barriers that stand in the way of equity and promote change and inclusion to not only improve our company culture, but better the cannabis industry as a whole.