Without realizing it, Shawnee Williams set herself up for a career in human resources and recruiting by working a wide range of jobs in an equally wide range of industries before starting her own company, Illinois Equity Staffing, in 2019.
With a bachelor’s degree in business management and a master’s in entertainment business, Williams’ vast career experience includes working in sales and operations in the entertainment and tech industries and even marketing of adult novelties. She also worked at Adecco, one of the largest staffing agencies in the country, where she learned the basics of human resources and recruiting.
“Going from industry to industry, I kept thinking in my 20s, what am I doing?” she says. “But I absolutely, 100% use every skill set that I’ve picked up in every industry I’ve worked — even adult novelties. … I think if it weren’t for the various experiences I’ve had, I wouldn’t be able to maneuver through the industry the way I do. I’m very agile and my skill set is wide ranging.”
Williams founded Illinois Equity Staffing in July 2019 to provide employee training, talent acquisition and human resources consulting to both plant-touching and ancillary businesses in the cannabis space.
“Our mission was to make sure the industry was diverse and inclusive,” she says. “What that looks like every year is different. Sometimes it’s just focusing on social equity. Sometimes it’s focusing on those who are justice-impacted. Our goal, through human resources and talent acquisition, is to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the cannabis space in whatever way we can.”