This article originally appeared in the Globe and Mail’s Nine to Five. Please see Julie’s response (second answer) below.
What do employers think about a candidate who has worked for one of the large cannabis companies in Canada in a strictly business/management function? I have an offer from one, and am getting mixed responses from friends and family. With the taboo regarding this industry still strong, I wonder if I’m committing career suicide or red-flagging myself for future opportunities outside of this firm. I am personally liberal on this issue, but others aren’t.
Vice-president human resources and corporate secretary, BC Transit
I would start with the obvious in that a plurality of Canadians were in favour of the legalization of cannabis, so I would suggest those same liberal mores will be found in the broader business world.
Your career is yours alone, and with something so intensely personal you need to decide whether the opportunity provides the chance to positively shape your career for the long term, inside or outside the cannabis industry.
I assume you applied for the position for the prospect of getting in at what is the ground floor of a new industrial sector, as well as an opportunity that will challenge and positively shape your career for the long term.
As a human resources professional, what I want to see as a prospective future employer is what skills and experiences you have obtained over your career. To me and the vast majority of others in my profession, that is much more important than what industry sector you worked in.
The bottom line is we all want to feel good about the organization we work for, and as it appears you can do that, my advice is to go for it.
President, BlueSky Personnel Solutions, Toronto
I’m going to answer your question with a question: Are you personally comfortable working in this industry?If you said “no,” then you’ve answered your query. Don’t accept this offer.
If you answered “yes” and feel you’ll enjoy the work and grow, then mixed reactions from your social community need not dictate your decision. Focus on what’s in it for you and your family.
Working in the marijuana industry is not a red flag for employers and you won’t be committing career suicide. It is a legitimate and legal industry. Your future employers will be interested in the skills and experience you acquired from this position, and how you’ll transfer that into their business.
Attitudes on cannabis have shifted greatly over the years too – a full 68 per cent of Canadians polled in 2016 by the Globe and Mail/Nanos Research, reported being supportive of legalizing marijuana in Canada.
Moreover, from a reputation standpoint, this emerging industry is keeping influential company. Some of Canada’s top ex-cops and former politicians are prominent shareholders or advisors in leading cannabis companies.
Lastly, as an article in the Globe and Mail mentioned recently, Canada has a real opportunity to become a world leader in a global sector projected to be worth $60-billion a year by 2028. You could be a part of this leadership.