The Numbers: How women are marginalized in the hemp industry
The CBD industry is exploding in 2019 and has become a new frontier for natural remedies in the wellness space. However, as this progressive and nascent industry expands into the mainstream, it has become apparent that cannabis is not exempt from the marginalization of women in the workplace. According to a study cited by Forbes, despite 43.4% of cannabis companies having dominantly female teams, only 17.6% of self-identified women in cannabis hold a “Director” or “Executive” role.
“The executive structure of businesses in the traditional economy — where males occupy more than 75 percent of senior roles — has begun to seep into the marijuana industry,” said Eli McVey, a research editor at Marijuana Business Daily.
In addition to the lack of executive representation of women in the cannabis industry, it’s also evident that women are not being heard on the consumer end. In a survey of more than 2,000 women with chronic pain, the percentage of self-identified women being treated differently by their doctor on the basis of gender was at 84 percent, with 28 percent reporting that this discrimination happened “more often than not.”
However, premium hemp CBD brand Populum, which has a track record of challenging the status quo in the hemp industry, has set a new standard for the inclusion of women and other marginalized genders both in the workplace and when shopping with them.
Populum’s holistic approach to inclusion
Bootstrapped and founded in late 2016, Populum has grown a team that is dominantly women in directorial roles, with female-led and staffed teams across Marketing, Customer Service, Sales, and Creative.
“We have sourced talent across all departments that we feel hold the vision of Populum,” said Gunhee Park, Populum’s founder and CEO. “We are proud to employ women who have the exceptional skills, merit, and spirit needed for this brand to thrive.”
Populum is an anomaly in the CBD industry with a dominantly female team: 67% of their directorial roles are held by women, and two of their four teams are entirely female-staffed.
“There is nothing more isolating than being the only woman in a meeting,” said Caitlin March, Populum’s Director of Marketing. “Populum facilitates a communicative and open atmosphere where I feel my ideas are welcomed and I don’t feel discrimination on the basis of my gender.”
In addition to a gender-diverse staff, Populum also has policies in place to maintain a company culture that prevents the existence of workplace harassment or discrimination against people of any identity. The company also recognizes the existence of mistreatment of women in healthcare and has policies implemented for their customer service team to treat all customers equally regardless of any identity.
“We pride ourselves on our exceptional customer service and we strive to ensure that only the best assistance is reaching every customer, every time,” said Park.
Visibility is also a key focus for Populum, especially with their creative and marketing team.
“The unfair treatment by law enforcement officials towards marginalized people using cannabis products is unjust and needs to be addressed,” said Ashley Ballard, Populum’s Creative Director. “By ensuring equal representation of genders, as well as races, in our brand photography and other creative assets, we are working to normalize the use of legal cannabis products in all communities.”
Populum’s policy of inclusivity extends beyond the customer and forward-facing aspects of the brand — team members of all genders are able to take advantage of modern office flexibility and are able to take three months of paid parental leave and allocate time for focusing on personal health. Take the days you need to get back to a better you, their handbook reads.
“We believe that if our team is healthy and giving themselves the attention they need, we are able to succeed as a company,” said Park.