The cannabis industry in Canada is known to be very male-dominated, even sometimes referred to as the “dude-bro’s club”. In fact, according to a 2020 study by the Centre on Drug Policy and Evaluation, only 14% of c-suite level executives (those who make strategic decisions for their companies), directors of licensed producers, and their parent companies are women.
It is women like Brenda, Territory Manager of Matchbox Cannabis in Sault Ste. Marie, who are making positive changes for gender equity in the industry.
Before switching careers to the retail recreational cannabis industry, Brenda worked in the corporate world.
“My past experience has given me the tools I need to be able to lead the team at Matchbox in the right direction. I’ve been able to ensure that we are working within the guidelines set out by the province and to help my team deliver the best service and high-quality information to our customers, all while helping to grow this family business,” she says.
Working in a male-dominated industry isn’t always easy, but Brenda relies on her skills and education to break down stereotypes.
“Since it is a male dominated industry, it is paramount that I present the knowledge and confidence that I have gained over the years. I don’t allow gender roadblocks to hold me back and I am able to open the door to many important conversations,” Brenda explains.
“I am fully educated and knowledgeable in the many products and items that we offer. Having this knowledge allows me to be able to make informed recommendations, as well as to ensure that our customers know what they are consuming.”
Even though the industry is heavily male dominated, the benefits far outweigh the negatives when it comes to working in retail cannabis.
“I have learned so much working in the cannabis industry. It has allowed me to understand cannabis and the different ways of consuming. I love being able to share my knowledge with our customers, whether they are new to cannabis consumption or have had experience and are looking for recommendations,” she says.
Brenda continues to work hard toward gender equity in her industry. She and the rest of the leadership team at Matchbox Cannabis are intentional about equality. “We are proud to employ women and ensure all employees, both men and women, obtain equal training, education, and opportunities,” Brenda says.
The future is bright for Brenda as she continues to breakdown the stereotypes that people hold about cannabis. Her hard work along with the hard work of many women in the industry are causing positive change and starting to break the elusive grass ceiling.
“In the future, I see myself continuing to learn, grow, and develop Matchbox Cannabis as a brand both here in Sault Ste. Marie and in the north leading to the south,” says Brenda. “In 5 or 10 years, I see women as equal partners in this growing industry.”