Member Blog: Finding Workplace Equity In The Year 2020
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Member Blog: Finding Workplace Equity In The Year 2020

by Erin Lemmons, Eolàs Human Resources

Photo Credit: Cannaclusive

Our world in 2020 looks vastly different from years past, and we have been ripped open and exposed as a human population, with the birth of COVID-19, the protests and riots resulting from brutality, and the belief that our systems are flawed and need to change at the root level. We are on the precipice of a social revolution and it is time to recognize and change the social paradigms that have shaped and dictated our lives on a personal level. We must also begin the hard work of re-shaping and shifting the practices and policies we have put in place in our work environments, that have disproportionately impacted underrepresented populations. Recent legislation has created the structure for us to begin to edit our current practices and to better support these populations; to aid change in our businesses and create a more equitable place for all employees to work. But it is not always easy as a business owner to understand what that means in our daily lives or to adopt the new practices that will support this evolution.  

To begin to understand this, we must first look at where the first missed step begins. We need to break down the different employment practices and approaches we’ve built and begin to analyze the data to understand what prevents us from being who and where we want to be as an organization and we must find the insight that will help us correct it.  

When we think about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, we may automatically be drawn to our hiring philosophies and our marketing strategies. Diversity has long been rooted in our recruitment and hiring processes, but we often miss the mark when that’s as far as we dare to look. It’s not just about hiring a certain percentage of a particular demographic or providing recruitment materials that represent the diversity we seek. We must also understand the unconscious bias that lives within all of us and its potential impact on the hiring and employment choices we make. It’s important for businesses to understand not only the laws that help govern equal opportunity but also to implement practices that support the growth of diversity and inclusion within the workplace.

What does your company do to ensure hiring practices are fair?

Have you looked at the unconscious biases that may live within your organization and impact the candidates you seek and ultimately hire?

Do you know the recent legislative changes that impact your ability to ask questions about criminal convictions and salary history, at the time of application or during the interview process?

Do you understand the impacts of background checks and the responsibility of the business to prove the correlation between a conviction and the type of damage it may impose on the business?

These questions tip the iceberg and only begin to open the pathways to investigate what other areas of your workplace may unknowingly rebuke the diversity initiatives you are chasing. Hiring is step one; from there you must identify and foster inclusion and equity in the workplace.  In order for a person to feel included, and to experience equality, they must first believe they have the same opportunity to succeed; they must know they are paid fairly and that they have the power to speak up and voice their opinions safely. They must know they have the ability to develop within the organization, to access training and mentorship, allowing them to earn promotions and recognition. When every person in our workplace can recognize and acknowledge equal opportunity in all employment practices, we can begin to say we are winning the battle. Only then have we managed to create an environment of equitability.  

It’s important as business owners and as leaders that we take a deep dive into the employment practices we have established and identified the areas where we fall short, where we fail to see diversity thriving.  

As NCIA and the cannabis industry work hard to promote social equity for all and to be a leader for change, it’s important that cannabis businesses also look internally at employment practices and how they can impart change, building equality in practice and in policy. 

As the founding partner of Eolàs HR, I’ve watched and worked alongside brilliant people who wanted to make a difference but didn’t know how, and who wanted to do the right thing but didn’t know where to start. It has long been a passion of mine to ensure employees of all races, ages, genders, religious beliefs, nationalities, etc. feel they have a workplace where they can thrive, and that businesses and business owners understand how to put practices in place that support and honor that basic human need. It’s important that businesses have the resources, tools, and support needed to build smart employment practices that not only support the employee but reduce the legal risk for the business. In working together, we become part of the solution and we stand as one population united.  

Erin Lemmons is passionate about helping small businesses avoid the risk of legal challenges that many companies face as they navigate the growth gap from 1 to 150 employees. She is the Founding Partner of Eolàs HR, a Denver based HR consulting firm and has worked with multiple start-up organizations, within the technology, hospitality and retail industries. Erin’s specialty is supporting employee management strategy and process. She provides the tools, resources and support businesses need to build strong employment practices and reduce legal risk.  

She thrives when working with companies who are philanthropic, value innovation, and are dedicated to both environmentally sound and strategically profitable business practices. 

Having graduated in 1997 from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science degree, Erin is also certified as a Professional in Human Resource (PHR) and is an active member of the prominent HR organization, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).  



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