Although the cannabis industry continues to flourish, the number of women working in leadership positions has been in steep decline over the course of the pandemic. In 2021, MJBizDaily reported that woman-identifying executive representation had dropped to 22 percent; down from 36.8% in 2019, and far below the national average of 30% female leadership across all industries.
At Verano, we believe the time for gender equality in cannabis is now. So we’re actively dedicated to shining a light on gender inequity in cannabis, hiring deserving women for open positions, and maintaining a positive, progressive working environment—for everyone.
The Reality of Women in Weed
Despite the stereotype that men are more likely to use cannabis, women make up approximately one third of all cannabis buyers. Many women—especially mothers—are private about their cannabis use, so the demographic of women-identifying cannabis users may be even larger. Unfortunately, the greater cannabis industry has not caught up with their shifting audience. As a result, cannabis product development and marketing heavily targets men… An unfortunate bias that extends beyond consumers to impact hiring practices.
The cannabis industry can only unlock its full potential once companies accurately represent their customer base. So, at Verano, all are welcome. Company-wide—from skilled executives and innovative lab team scientists, to expert cultivators and customer care managers—Verano employs a vast community of talented women across all of our facilities and dispensary locations. Here’s what some of the women of Verano have to say about the industry and their roles in it.
Women Leaders in Cannabis
For Joanna Skiadopoulos, our VP of Integration and Strategic Services, being in the cannabis space is “having front-row seat in an industry that’s still in its infancy and is evolving at the most rapid pace…seeing the evolution of the legality with cannabis offers growth and learning opportunities both personal and professional that can’t be matched.”
Meanwhile, Bianca Castillo, our Director of Retail Property Management, said “My favorite part about working in cannabis is the culture and endless opportunity. The work is challenging and constantly rewarding.” Alexandra Twomey in Compliance echoed this sentiment: “My favorite aspects of working in the industry are being able to continue cannabis advocacy while endlessly learning…learning about regulations, operations, and knowledge based on studies that we were not able to conduct in recent history.”
Personal and professional growth were core themes. Emily Decraene, Sr. Manager of Business Intelligence, voiced “quite often you set out to solve a problem that few to none have faced before. It requires you to harness out-of-the-box thinking and have a strong understanding of the resources available to leverage. It brings a whole new meaning to working in an environment when you are always learning.” Likewise, People Operations Partner Kim Torres shared “The industry has seen 110% growth over the past three years. I get to be a part of that journey, and am very excited for the future of Verano.”
Many team members cite the community as a vital reason why they choose to work in cannabis. Gina Gabriel, Sr. Finance Manager, enjoys working in the cannabis space because it allows her to “work alongside some of the most talented people, while continuing to promote the positive health benefits of cannabis.” Ally Walenga, our VP of CPG Compliance, agrees. “Working in cannabis is being surrounded by talented, driven, and passionate people who consistently provide the highest level of satisfaction to customers.” Julianna Paterra, our Director of Investor Relations, shared “there is a sense of community and inclusion across the industry, even amongst competitors… With so many unknowns to navigate, there’s a collaborative ‘we’re in this together’ mentality.” Similarly, Regional Sales Manager Torie Maraney feels passionate about our community of customers and patients. “I love being a part of the overall development and progression of the plant and products, and providing medical relief to countless patients across the country,” she affirmed.
Working as a Woman at Verano
We’re beyond grateful that so many remarkable women have said yes to spending their time and talent at Verano. Like Digital Content Manager, Danyal Swan, who said “in a space where ‘no’ was perpetuated for so many years for a myriad of reasons, the ability to help rewrite the narrative for all genders is truly special.” Emily Montero, Sr. Finance Analyst, told us “I’ve never felt more valued, trusted and seen in my professional career than at Verano… We have so many women in leadership roles which provides us with amazing role models and mentors.” “At Verano, I feel empowered to be the best version of myself,” said Jovana Peric Lazic, Finance Manager. “The women here are fearless, strong, and well-supported. Throughout my career, my managers have pushed me professionally while supporting my role as a full-time mom, as well. Everyone here is focused on personal and professional success, and with that kind of environment you can only progress forward.”
Empowerment is key. “I have seen the company grow and flourish while keeping the interest of all its consumers at heart. I love knowing that we are providing not only to women, but everyone, a safe and efficient way to experience cannabis,” shared Starla Huff, Illinois Facility Compliance Manager. And according to Roxanne Esheim, VP of Finance and Business Operations, we need more women to apply for careers in cannabis. “I’m lucky if I get 20% resumés from women,” she said. “Previously in my career I sat back and listened to instruction.. In [the cannabis industry], I realized I needed to be more assertive and willing to be more vocal in my role.” The cannabis industry needs vocal, assertive women like Roxanne—and it needs you.
Verano is here to amplify the voices of women and all marginalized communities. So, if you’re a woman who’s ready to blaze a new, more inclusive trail at Verano, apply to any of our open positions today. We believe the future of cannabis is limitless, and we say yes to powerful women leading the way forward.