CELEBRATING, AND WORKING TOWARDS, DIVERSITY IN CANNABIS

 

Is your cannabis business diverse? 

Diversity in the workplace is a commitment to hiring, developing, and retaining employees of different backgrounds, races, genders, sexual orientations, religions, education levels, socio-economic backgrounds, and just about any attribute that makes a single human being unique.

Diversity and cultural diversity within the workplace is nothing new; however, it wasn’t until this century that it became front and center of the values people place into their businesses.

There are several benefits for businesses that put diversity at the forefront when creating their workforce. Here are just a few:

INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY

Having a diverse workforce will open up your company culture to one of learning from each other. When you have a diverse workforce, each individual brings with them a special skill set or knowledge that the others in the workforce may not necessarily have. Diversity invites people to look at things from different perspectives, rather than linear or with on-track-thinking. 

INCREASED CREATIVITY

A Forbes article, looking at the value of diversity for creativity states that, “Research on creativity and innovation has been consistent in showing the value of exposing individuals to experiences with multiple perspectives and worldviews. It is the combination of these various perspectives in novel ways that result in new ideas “popping up.”

A homogeneous workforce (people of the same background) will result in a lot of the same ideas percolating, with not much new being offered. Bringing in diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives may give the group what it needs to get to those “a ha” moments when creativity is required.

IMPROVED EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

The work setting is an excellent place to promote sharing and learning from each other. Employee Engagement programs can take either informal or formal formats. Informal formats are the everyday interactions – at the water cooler, at lunch, or sometimes for the cannabis industry, while enjoying a session outside. These are great opportunities to engage in conversations that encourage employees to talk about their backgrounds, how they grew up, customs they practice, and other aspects of what makes them unique. Formal Employee Engagement programs include engaging in diversity training, holding “cultural appreciation” days, or inviting employees to present to the rest of the team a little a bit about them or what makes them unique.

INCREASED BOTTOM LINE

Back in 2015, McKinsey and Company, a data insights group put together some hard facts that demonstrate the importance of diversity and inclusion programs and how they can affect the bottom line: 

i) In comparison to their competitors, companies who rank in the top quartile for their ethnic and racial diversity and inclusion approaches gain 35% more financial returns; with higher gender diversity, they gain 15% more in financial returns;

ii) For every 10% increase in ethnic and racial diversity on the executive team, a company can expect earnings to rise 0.8% before taxes and expenses;

iii) Companies that are implementing diversity and inclusion programs are more likely to see a positive bottom-line improvement with more racial and ethnic diversity than gender diversity, likely because gender diversity programs of previous decades have already yielded positive results;

iv) Currently, no industry is coming out “on top” in demonstrating an excellent commitment to diversity

Let’s make this cannabis’ opportunity to shine by showing the world, and other industries, what diversity truly looks like.

APPROACHING DIVERSITY IN YOUR ORGANIZATION

Diversity isn’t about just doing a headcount in your organization of people who make up different backgrounds and saying “yup, we’re good.” The best companies take an intentional and calculated approach to building their diverse corporate culture.

Here are some solid takeaways on how you can assess your organization’s diversity, and then make plans to ensure that your workforce is truly diverse:

i) Do a formal Diversity Workplace Assessment. Ryerson University offers a great Diversity Audit Tool (DAT) that helps companies assess their diversity approaches at six different organizational levels. 

ii) Engage in recruitment practices that target diverse groups. For instance, don’t just go to the general college or university recruitment fairs. Approach students in diversity clubs within colleges and universities to make relationships, learn about them, and invite them to apply to your organization post-graduation. The same goes for community-based groups!

iii) Develop a diversity calendar that takes into account ALL the religious and cultural holidays, and ensure that employees within your organization are given the time to observe their holidays. Take it one step further and have celebrations of different holidays – not just the regular holidays the Western world traditionally celebrates like Christmas.

iv) Hire a Diversity Consultant who will help you assess “where you’re at” and “where you want to be” in terms of diversity strategy, recruitment, and employee engagement programs.

LEADING THROUGH DIVERSITY

Canada is a multicultural nation, and our workplaces should reflect that. Right now, cannabis has the opportunity to show the world, and other industries, how diversity is done, and done right. Don’t be the organization that is made up of carbon copies of each other – trust us, you won’t get too far. Celebrate the diversity that Canada has to offer by placing diversity at the core of your company’s values