Women’s History Month: Talking to Karen Burt About Gender Equality in the Workplace
Each March, Women’s History Month is a chance to both appreciate the women who have had an impact on the history of country and world, and to recognize the biases and inequalities that remain today.
One of the largest areas of inequality for many women remains the workplace.
At Goodness Growth Holdings, we are proud that more than 60% of our workforce identifies as a woman, a minority or a veteran, and of the policies and programs we have put in place to ensure gender equality. For example, our policy of providing parental leave to all new parents, regardless of gender, ensures that women will not be treated differently for having a child – or even just for being of childbearing age. We are also proud to partner with or support many organizations which support women in the workplace, including WomenGrow and Women of Color Worldwide.
But we know that historically, women have been prevented from joining many professions or holding management positions and other positions of power – and that many women continue to face discrimination in the workplace today.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that, as of 2019, women’s media earnings for full-time, year-round workers were 80.8% of men’s median earnings, and Pew Research Center reports that in 2017, women made up roughly 5% of Fortune 500 company CEOs, and in 2016, women made up about 20% of Fortune 500 board members. Pew Research Center also reports that one-in-four working women say they have earned less than a man who was doing the same job, and that women are twice as likely as men to have experienced at least one of eight specific forms of gender discrimination at work.
In fact, one of the earliest events that would set the stage for Women’s History Month was a protest on March 8, 1857, when women in various New York City factories staged a protest over poor working conditions.
This March, we’re celebrating Women’s History Month by recognizing the contributions and accomplishments of women on our team, among our patients and among our partners – and recognizing the biases and discrimination that women still face. As part of that effort, Goodness Growth’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council is highlighting several women among our team, our patients and our communities.
Next Up is Karen Burt, one of our Budtenders at our Las Cruces, New Mexico Green Goods location.
The DEI Council was excited to hear from Karen about her experience as a cannabis patient, how that experience helps her help our patients, and the changes she’s seen in the professional world since her earlier days in the male-dominated profession of civil engineering.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you live now? Do you have family you want to mention?
I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. I migrated to Las Cruces for college where I earned my BS in Civil Engineering, and eventually landed in Albuquerque for several years where I had the privilege of working on public works projects throughout New Mexico. In the early 2000s, I returned to Las Cruces to be near my parents and open a branch office for the consulting firm I was working for at that time. Since leaving consulting in the early 2010s, I have entertained myself with various volunteer efforts and part-time work, the most significant starting as a seasonal employee and ending as Store Manager for the campus bookstore at Dona Ana Community College.
When did you start at Green Goods/Goodness Growth Holdings, and what is your title?
I started with Green Goods as a Budtender at the time the Las Cruces store opened, in the summer of 2021.
What made you interested in the cannabis industry?
My current personal journey with cannabis is from using it medically for inflammation and pain control associated with arthritis. Having exhausted alternatives in traditional medicine for treatment due to intolerable side effects, I turned to cannabis, which has truly allowed me to resume a more active life. I wanted to help others on their cannabis journeys, plus I saw that the industry was on the cusp of significant growth in New Mexico.
What do you like about working with cannabis? What are some challenges unique to the industry?
The two things I enjoy most about my present position are the diversity among our patients, my co-workers, our products and even the type of work I do day-to-day, and the personal sense of accomplishment I get when a patient tells me that my suggestions of our products for their needs are working for them.
I believe the most challenging aspect to the current industry is the disconnect between state and federal laws. I also believe we are facing a short-term challenge with the uncertainties associated with the opening of recreational sales slated to begin in New Mexico next month.
Have you faced any challenges specific to being a woman in the cannabis industry?
Cannabis does tend to be a more male-dominated industry, but I have always felt respected and supported at Vireo Health/Green Goods. I’m proud to work for a company that takes diversity and inclusion seriously.
What does Women’s History Month mean for you?
This is a time of reflection for me personally in thinking about the progress of women I have seen throughout my lifetime, beginning as a young adult entering a male-dominated profession to the present where most occupations appear to be welcoming of women.
What is one thing you’d like to see change to create a more equal society for women (and people of all genders)?
If I could impart one bit of wisdom here, it would be the ability of individuals to advocate for themselves (either as an individual or as part of a like-minded group of people) in an effective, non-confrontational manner to bring about mutually-beneficial solutions.
Thank you, Karen, for taking the time to share your story with us! Look out for more profiles of our female team members and patients throughout Women’s History Month!