At Verano, we believe that cannabis can and should be better, and that starts with DE&I (diversity, equity, inclusion)—in our facilities, the communities we serve, and the cannabis industry at large. Because even though the legal cannabis business continues to blaze forward, creating inspiring career opportunities as it grows; the truth is that minorities remain vastly underrepresented in this industry. In the U.S., less than 20 percent of legal cannabis business owners and founders are minorities. This unfortunate statistic, combined with the negative impact of cannabis prohibition on generations of marginalized communities, demands diversity, equity, and inclusion best practices.
We spoke to Destiny Thompson, Chief People Officer, and Michael Evans, Vice President of Talent Acquisition, to learn more about Verano’s efforts to make this industry work—for everyone.
Throwing the Gates Open
According to Destiny and Michael, company diversity begins with who you hire, so Verano’s recruiting and job application processes champion accessibility. “We want to break down the barriers and encourage people to come in that maybe wouldn’t have otherwise,” Destiny shared. So Michael runs cannabis career fairs on weekends, in easy-to-reach locations near public transit. Applicants don’t need internet access—there’s always an option to call or interview in person. Nor do they need resumės: “We strongly believe that even people who might not have the most traditional career track on paper have valuable skills that are applicable to this industry,” said Destiny.
Destiny and Michael’s overall hiring mindset “is that the talent they have to pull from is already in the communities Verano is in… We want to be something to these communities and work within them.” Along these same lines, it doesn’t matter if candidates have cannabis experience, as long as they’re willing to learn. Oftentimes, “we give people a job that they didn’t know they needed,” Michael told us.
Verano Equity Initiatives
Destiny is excited about the Leading at Verano series, which trains Verano team members—including those with no experience in the corporate world—in problem-solving and leadership skills. This way, employees can grow with Verano, and continue to make a positive professional impact no matter where their careers take them.
Our other DE&I initiatives are less formal—but every bit as meaningful. “We’re out here working on DE&I from the ground up,” Destiny shared. “It’s actionable, it’s impactful, there’s action we can quantify. It’s NOT just grandiose.”
For Destiny and Michael, these quantifiable actions look like opening dispensaries and cultivation facilities in rural communities, creating more jobs for those with few local career options. Or employing a large population of veterans, many of whom use cannabis to cope with PTSD and are eager to help others in pain. “There’s a job for everyone [at Verano] no matter what your background or where you fall on the spectrum,” Destiny shared.
Resources for Those Looking to Work in Cannabis
Michael and Destiny recommend MJBizDaily, an online publication that offers the latest insights into the cannabis industry. Likewise, the National Cannabis Industry Association offers educational webinars, publications, and more. There are also local chapters for Women in Cannabis, Independent Craft Growers Associations, and Minority Cannabis Business Associations. Just search for your state and the communities you’re part of, and there is likely an opportunity to network and learn about cannabis near you. Finally, Destiny and Michael shared that several local community colleges offer cannabis certificates in growing, harvesting, and product development.
If you’re interested in a career at Verano, check out the current job openings on our careers page or our LinkedIn page. All are welcome at Verano. So if you, too, believe that cannabis can and should be better—and do better—we hope you’ll join our team.