Cannabis is so many things: A powerful medicine, a major driver for social equity and justice system reform, and for businesses around the world, a lucrative recreational product investment. But as far as we’re concerned, one of the most impactful upshots of the “Green Wave” is the wealth of opportunities for women in the industry.
From women-owned canna-centric publications like Broccoli to the tribe of female cannabis influencers who set the tone for the cannabis world, the cannabis world is an incubator for the next generation of female entrepreneurs, activists, and thought leaders.
This year, we decided to mark March—aka Women’s History Month—by sitting down to talk with two women working in the industry.
Katherine Greiner is the Vice President of Digital and E-commerce at Vireo Health, a major multi-state medical cannabis company. And Kristina Green is General Manager at Greenside Recreational, a dispensary chain located in Washington State. Between them, the two women represent a broad swath of experience, talent, and ambition. Let’s dive in with some reflections on what the industry demands of female leaders, as well as some thoughts and tips on how to advance in this new and still-developing sphere.
Women’s History Month: A Conversation with Two Women in Cannabis
Foottraffik: Kristina, let’s start with you. What do you bring to the table as a person of authority at your workplace?
Kristina Green, Greenside Recreational: Resilience is key; every day can present a new challenge that you were not necessarily prepared for. With the combination of healthy resilience, strong confidence, and the eagerness to continue to learn and grow, you can become an unstoppable force.
Foottraffik: Katherine, how does that land with you?
Katherine Greiner, Vireo Health: Great female leaders aren’t apologetic in their beliefs or stance, but they aren’t (searching for a polite word here) needlessly brusque or hard-edged, either. [But] it is important to stop apologizing. Take ‘I am sorry’ out of your daily vocabulary.
Foottraffik: What motivates you on a day-to-day basis?
Kristina Green, Greenside Recreational: I love to grow people and businesses. Changing the world one person or one business at a time. I’m very involved with my teams, and anything I ask anyone of my employees to do, I will do it too. If they’re struggling, I am there. I observe and look for pain points in order to grow and make the business more efficient.
Katherine Greiner, Vireo Health: What I love about the cannabis industry is that it is such a cutting-edge product, and people are much more open-minded to individual quirks and unique traits. You can’t judge people and this industry has made me more empathetic and compassionate towards others. Don’t be afraid to show what makes you different!
Foottraffik: What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?
Katherine Greiner, Vireo Health: Create strong cross-functional relationships with other people in your company. Do an intro Zoom call with coworkers from across any and all departments and schedule a Zoom lunch date. You create more camaraderie and it makes both people feel great.
Foottraffik: Do you have any advice for aspiring female leaders in the cannabis sector?
Katherine Greiner, Vireo Health: Talk to your female colleagues more about their goals. Men are great at talking about salary expectations and what positions they want to aim for in their careers.
There seems to be a bit more of a stigma for women talking about money and trying not to seem too aspirational. Tell your colleagues you want to be a VP in three yrs and open yourself up to constructive conversations. You will find support, advice, and even mentorship when you open up about your goals.
Also, get a very successful male as a mentor, simply because they have a different perspective, they will bring up things that a woman may not have even thought of. The best piece of advice I got was to gravitate towards amazing people that you can learn from. I have taken jobs before that were slight steps down in roles and responsibilities because I got the opportunity to work with someone who I knew would be an amazing teacher. Don’t be afraid to take a step back in salary so you can work in organizations or with people from whom you will learn and grow with. Be super clear on your goals, but flexible too.
Foottraffik: Kristina, let’s close by coming full circle. What are some traits you think great female leaders possess?
Kristina Green, Greenside Recreational: “Empathy, a strong work ethic, dedication, engagement, humility, intentional listening, intellectual curiosity, networking, problem-solving, and an entrepreneurial spirit.”
We loved being a part of this conversation with two women making a difference in the cannabis industry. Be sure to check back here for more insights into the cannabis industry.