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Social Responsibility

Growing Gender Diversity


When Karen decided to start making rum, she knew the industry would be male dominated. Even with realistic expectations, some of what she found surprised and disheartened her. She had to fight to be taken seriously for her first decade in business. And women business owners continue to have difficulty accessing venture capital funds, bank financing, and other resources. Never one to back down, she set out to change that reality and create opportunity for women in distilling and the world of rum.


Creating gender diversity and a safe work enviroment.


The fact that female business owners receive less than 3% of venture capital in the US is stark enough on its own. But as Karen has observed, there are other forces at play that make the alcohol beverage industry a challenge for women.

For starters, they often have no generational mentorship, meaning their fathers and the generation before them rarely groomed them to be business owners.

Women in all positions also experience micro-aggressions in the workplace (often daily): being mistaken for someone with no clout, having to prove themselves before being taken seriously, and having to justify decisions more often than men.

At Montanya, Karen often receives emails addressed to “Dear Sir” (after more than 10 years in operation!).


It’s also not uncommon for someone to stop by the Tasting Room and dismiss her in search of the person in charge.

Women in the industry also deal with inappropriate conduct from patrons and sexual harassment.

According to Toast author Cailey Lindberg, employee turnover in the restaurant industry hit a five-year high of 75% in 2018. Many of those are women looking for safer, more supportive workplace cultures.

From the beginning, Karen has been determined to keep these factors from stalling her own progress or the growth of Montanya Distillers. And she’s been committed to creating safe workplaces for women and opportunity across the industry.



Female bartenders in the u.s.
Crica 1900


A Supreme court ruling banned female bartenders



The Supreme court ban Was finally challenged


female makeup of U.S. bar force in 2015



Greater return in female-led companies

87 Cents

WhaT women earn for every Dollar a man earns


Statistics courtesy Toast


Empowering Women at Work

For our founder Karen, it’s important to empower women across all types of positions so our staff can grow their careers—and their lives—as they choose.

Creating a safe work environment has been equally important. We have a robust and enforceable policy on both sexual harassment and grievance reporting.

The Montanya staff is 59.46% female, and management is 66.67% female.

We have or have had women in every role in the business: President and CEO, Distilling, Marketing and Communications, Lead Chef, Front of House and Back of House Management, Bartending, Serving, Line Cook—you name it, a woman has done it.


Evolving the industry

Women of the Vine & Spirits


In March of 2018, 60 women gathered at the American Distilling Institute annual conference.

It was an unprecedented moment, giving new female distillers access to industry veterans—who also happened to be women. They could talk distilling, fermentation, business and brand building, and even safety and compliance.

They met under the auspices of the Women’s Distillery Guild, of which Karen was a founding member and later led.

The group has since joined forces with the Women of the Vine & Spirits, recognizing strength in numbers.

Montanya Distillers is a proud corporate member of the group, which is dedicated to pushing the alcohol beverage industry to help all succeed.

As Karen puts it, it was a lonely world to be a woman in the craft distilling business five years ago.

She mentors women and started the Women’s Distillery Guild so women didn’t have to go through the same challenges alone.


Was 2018 the Year of the Woman?

Karen shares 10 ways to improve gender representation, retention and satisfaction in Distiller Magazine.

Focus on Female Founders Funding

In 2019, Montanya received funding Constellation Brands in recognition of being a disruptive and inclusive brand.

Speaking for Gender Diversity

Karen speaks nationally about empowering female staff and creating opportunity. Visit her Speaker Site for more.

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