During Women's History Month, Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers doubled down on creating a positive workplace for women — even as the percentage of women in executive positions in cannabis has stagnated in recent years.
"One of my goals is to make Trulieve the best place for women to launch and sustain careers," she told Cheddar News in an interview following the company's earnings report.
Rivers, who herself is one of the highest profile female executives in the cannabis industry, said that 50 percent of her Florida-based company's board was composed of "really wonderful, amazing and strong women" in 2022.
"We're going to continue to lead from the front," she said.
Some 23.1 percent of executives in the cannabis industry are women, according to MJBizDaily's 2022 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Cannabis Industry report. That represents a 1 percent gain from 2021 but a drop from the all-time high of 36.8 percent in 2019. The percentage of women with a majority ownership stake in cannabis businesses grew to 22.2 percent from 19.9 percent in 2021. Still these stats trail the overall economy, in which women represent about 29.1 percent of chief executives, according to the report.
The COVID-19 pandemic had an outsized effect on women in the workforce. In 2020, the percentage of working women declined by about 1 percent to the lowest since 1987, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When the pandemic forced the closure of schools and childcare centers, many women found themselves saddled with caregiving responsibilities. Plus, women were overrepresented in the types of businesses hit hardest by the pandemic.
"We're in this sort of post-COVID, pre-recession space right now," Rivers said. "A lot of folks and certainly women, depending on responsibilities in non-work life, are definitely prioritizing, reprioritizing thinking through career trajectories and what that looks like in this kind of new era."
In spite of the downward pressures, Rivers remained optimistic about the future of women in cannabis.
"I certainly hope that on this day next year …that these statistics will point in a different direction," she said.