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This International Women's Day, Let's Salute Strong Women

May we know them, may we be them, and may we raise them.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

According to a survey released in the summer of 2019, women account for more than a third of the executive positions in the cannabis space. This is above the national average of 21 percent for all U.S. businesses. In prior years, the numbers were even greater. The cannabis industry was once the darling opportunity for women entrepreneurs, with record numbers in leadership roles and founding companies. However, as the capital has flowed in and the industry has legalized, the number of women in cannabis continues to decrease for many reasons. 

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Despite the fact that women are serious, hard-working, and passionate about bringing the plant mainstream, the numbers are stacking against. One example: Less than 3 percent of all venture funding goes to women. The cannabis industry is starting to look like every other industry out there. 

So how do we address this and adjust course to tip things back in the right direction? It’s time to rise and support each other like never before.

Related: Band of Sisters: These Organizations Help Women in Weed Unite

Create a network 

Networking has never been as important as it is today.  Let’s be honest, it’s hard to find time in our busy schedules to be fully focused moms, leaders, partners, founders, sisters, executives, let alone a solid networker. After intense days at my company, I just want to head home snuggle with my kiddo—or relax with my girlfriends. However, the need for a strong web of like-minded women has never been more necessary than it is right now. 

Whether you need peer-to-peer mentoring, help in preparing for a state compliance audit, or advice in communicating with investors, a solid network in and out of our industry will benefit us in times of need.  

As important as it is to ask for help, it’s also equally important to assist. A couple of weeks ago, I had a call with another female cannabis executive who asked me a slew of questions about the strategy we’ve taken in our business. I shared my knowledge with her openly. At the end of our conversation, she thanked me for my time and ideas, and she offered to help in exchange. It really struck me how great it was to feel valued, and I so appreciated her offer of reciprocation. While I went into the conversation expecting nothing in return, the feel-good effect was in play.

Even if someone does not directly ask for help, you can still support women by taking initiative as well. Post about how much you love their products on social, or send a thank you note for someone taking the time to help you. Helping and reciprocating will benefit both parties, as well as their customers and the industry as a whole.

Related: Looking To Enter The Cannabis Biz? Professionals From The Industry Give Top Advice

Help a sister out

As with any industry, the cannabis business comes with plenty of detractors who, perhaps due to insecurities of their own, set out to challenge us. Just as helping someone out reaps mutual benefits, negativity ultimately holds us all back. Let’s face it: We’ve all been there. On days that I’m tired I work hard to take a deeper look at my less-than-positive thoughts, and question if I’m acting other than in a way that is 100 percent supportive of the other person. To find our greatest strength as a woman, it has to start honestly with each of us making a commitment to be the best we can be by walking the talk every day. Consideration and kindness do not make us any less effective or strong as leaders. Quite the opposite.

Teach the children well 

We’re at an amazing time in our history where cannabis prohibition is ending, and millions are starting to gain access to cannabis products to benefit their lives. As the industry continues to evolve, it’s our responsibility to lead and mentor the next generation of women in this space. We need to create company cultures that teach the skills women need to be successful in the industry, and as leaders in their own right. The female leaders of today are raising the leaders of tomorrow, both inside and outside their companies.  

We are also leading policymakers to make safe regulations for our communities and consumers, and encouraging them to stand strong against the rhetoric of falsehoods. We are leading communities, be it our family and friends, or and customers to explore cannabis and its benefits, and educating them on what is best for them - from how to dose to where to buy, to knowing what you are putting in your body.  

So ladies, as we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, let’s remember we can rise up, come together, and positively demonstrate our strength and power. Strong women; may we know them, may we be them, and may we raise them.  

Related: 10 Women Leaders of the Cannabis Industry Share Lessons on How to Succeed In the Industry