We are all now aware that the cannabis industry is built on a supreme and undeniable injustice. But righting the wrongs of the War on Drugs – and creating functional, scalable social equity initiatives is a challenge of enormous proportion. Solving this problem requires a broad coalition of public and private forces equipped with plentiful and sustained human and financial resources.
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress,” taught Frederick Douglass.
Systemic change has no silver bullet. But this Black History Month, FlowerHire is taking the opportunity to affirm our commitment to being the change we want to see all year, every year.
We believe in the transformative power of the plant to unlock economic opportunities and empower a hopeful and change-inspiring future. As a high-tech, high-touch service provider that advises cannabis operators on HR practices including hiring, recruitment, and retention, we have a critically important role to play in making cannabis a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and profitable space. Our team is invested in doing that work thoughtfully and strategically in the years to come.
There are myriad difficulties to doing DEI right. It’s painfully apparent that for years it’s been done ineffectively – even by the largest companies with the biggest budgets and the best of intentions. Since the Black Lives Matters movement, society has a renewed commitment to DEI that we’re seeing across corporate America. This new movement of DEI leaders is actively applying lessons from what hasn’t worked and constructing a bridge between the injustices of today and the more beautiful future we want to manifest. These leaders are trusted sources of information, relationships, and perspectives. They have stepped up to help the FlowerHire team, and others across the industry to begin this necessary, transformative work.
Here’s a short – and not at all comprehensive – list of cannabis industry leaders who are ready to help you build and act on your commitment to justice in 2022:
Organizations that can help build diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and antiracism into your cannabis company
Cannabis Doing Good is setting the standard for social responsibility in the cannabis industry. They aim to create a cannabis network that is purpose-driven – driven to create change. Kelly Perez and Courtney Mathis are the co-founders and facilitators, working directly with cannabis companies who want to collaborate and inspire new ways of people, planet, and business engagement. A big part of the mission is to “call-in” vs. “calling out, “ highlighting cannabis industry leaders who are generating impact and abundance, reinvesting in those communities most harmed, and creating an industry accountable to the planet.
Humble Bloom, headed up by Solonje Burnett and Danniel Swatosh, is a New York-based cannabis immersive education and advocacy platform that both empowers individuals through inclusive experiences and consults growing brands on how to bloom consciously. Humble Bloom believes strong brands are built through an inclusive humanist approach to branding and marketing. They work with clients to create their brand heart, essence, messaging, and identity so the human elements shine through. They are also strong advocates for building an “equitable, fair, reparative, and regenerative cannabis industry” in NY from the start.
Co-founded by Hilary Yu and Timeka Drew, Our Academy is a workshop, mentorship, and resource group of individuals and companies in the cannabis industry. Members share knowledge and support social equity qualified applicants, partners, and other disproportionately impacted and targeted communities of the War on Drugs. The goal is to increase interaction and open discussion between conscious cannabis companies, ancillary service providers, investors, and social equity programs through digital ’round table talks.’ There are also opportunities for one-on-one mentorships. All mentees are given access to curriculum and compliance regulation resources.
Ecquinabis is a BIPOC, women-led, entrepreneurial compliance and diversity consulting firm for the cannabis industry, focusing specifically on the markets in New Jersey, New York, and the East Coast. The team is led by Peggy Brug, Esquire and Wilma Brockington Parker, who met while directing large-scale diversity initiatives at Verizon. They support expanding cannabis companies with navigating economic equity diversity compliance, state licenses, and business and employment matters. Ecquinabis builds entrepreneurial models and alliances across racial and gender lines to grow the cannabis industry using comprehensive data, developing strategic partnerships, and implementing innovative global initiatives.
Join us in committing to build an antiracist cannabis industry in 2022. Reach out to the principals at one of these organizations, or to me directly at FlowerHire, and start developing a plan of action. If they are organizations you know that we don’t, please let us know about them. We are all in this together, —learning as we go.