Breakfast of Champions (The 2019 NAMM Show): SWIM
Smart Women in Music (SWIM) launched last year as the brainchild of three music industry leaders: Robin Walenta of West Music (and NAMM chair), Crystal Morris of Gator Cases and Dede Heid of Heid Music. During “Breakfast of Champions” at The 2019 NAMM Show, NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond spoke with them about the organization’s mission and vision.
Walenta said the inspiration for SWIM began a little more than 30 years ago at her first NAMM Show. “I walked out on the show floor and said, ‘There aren’t a lot of people here who look like me.’ So it was at that moment that I realized that we had an opportunity to make some changes in our industry and took that responsibility very seriously. I worked very hard over the course of my career to not only advance myself in my company but to give back to the industry, as well. And now through the SWIM initiative, giving other women those same opportunities.”
The SWIM founders discussed the organization’s three pillars: to connect, support and grow. Specifically, SWIM’s industry events and website are designed to connect women in the industry and foster mentorship. Support comes in the form of scholarships to bring female professionals to future NAMM Shows, and all of these initiatives are designed to create career growth.
The SWIM co-founders also weighed in on their professional journeys and their motivation to start the organization.
“Nineteen years ago, my dad and I started our current company, Gator Cases,” Morris said. “And I think the thing I found as, at that point in time, a young female, I would go into meetings, and I felt like I had to work twice as hard to get credibility and sometimes still wouldn't get the credibility I was looking for.
“I definitely have run into places where it has been difficult, and it just gives me more commitment to work harder and show value. I think together we can all drive change.”
“We have two young daughters—they’re 11 and 14—and it has happened, multiple times, that they’re told that their 6-year-old brother would take our company to be our fourth generation,” Heid said. “They may not choose to be in our business, but I want them to know that they have every opportunity to create the path they want. And it’s not who they marry; it’s what they want to do for themselves.”
Walenta offered several statistics showing how diverse companies tend to be more successful and profitable.
• “A Forbes study identified workforce diversity and inclusion as the key driver of internal innovation and business growth.”
• “Ethnically diverse companies perform 33 percent better than the norm.”
• “Forbes Best [Employers] for Diversity enjoyed 24 percent higher revenue growth.”
• “Companies with 30 percent female executives have 6–15 percent more points of profit than other companies.”