Jump In and SWIM
The SWIM Fund was established in 2018 after a small group of female industry leaders gathered at a National Association of School Music Dealers (NASMD) convention and discussed “igniting the ambition of women in the music products industry so that we can connect, support and grow as professionals and leaders.”
SWIM Fund aims to expand diversity, invite inclusion, and foster support for women in the music products industry with tools, resources, and valuable networking opportunities. We spoke with West Music Co., Inc. President/CEO and NAMM Chair, Robin Walenta, the SWIM Fund Captain on the goals of the Fund and opportunities to foster the next generation of female leadership in the music products community.
Why is SWIM and its objectives of utmost importance at this time in the industry?
Last year I read an article in Forbes outlining research showing that the increase of women in leadership is helping businesses thrive in unprecedented ways. The data also suggested that, in many areas, employers and their industries have yet to return the favor. The Forbes study identified workforce diversity and inclusion as a key driver of internal innovation and business growth. Statistics indicate that ethnically diverse companies perform 33 percent better than the norm, Forbes' best workplaces for diversity enjoy 24 percent higher revenue growth, companies with 30% female executives rake in as much as 6 -15% points more in profits and companies where women made up at least 15% of senior management were 50% more profitable than those where fewer than 10% of senior managers were female.
How would the founders define success for the SWIM Fund?
In general, we see success as active engagement, open conversations, and participation in SWIM initiatives leading to the advancement of women into leadership roles. Primarily, our goal is to improve the benchmarks relating to the women in the leadership gap and to strengthen the music products industry. Currently, only 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and only and estimated 2.4% of music products industry CEOs are women.
We have a goal to match the Fortune 500 statistic within 20 years by encouraging more women to join the industry, provide mentorship and learning opportunities for their growth and development, and to raise awareness within companies about the important contribution women make to the organization’s success.
Could you provide an example of how the SWIM Fund has directly impacted the industry?
I recently received a fantastic email from the President of a large music products company informing me that the work of SWIM has directly impacted the way in which he searches for candidates to fill top roles within the company. He stated, “it was your involvement with the SWIM initiative and discussions I had during the NASMD conference that forced me to rethink how we were looking for highly qualified candidates, and that we needed to go the extra mile and not take the path of least resistance.”
What is the best way for people to get involved with SWIM?
Go to Smartwomeninmusic.org and join the team. This website will serve as our communication center, connecting all SWIM teammates with contact information, blogs, activity calendar, and general information about SWIM.
We encourage everyone to attend the SWIM meets at each NAMM Show, look for mentoring opportunities within your company and the industry, and to be more aware in your hiring and advancement planning. It’s at the grassroots that we must create more awareness and opportunity with initiatives that will impact gender parity. There is no such thing as single-handed success. Success is always collaborative- it requires a supporting, evolving ecosystem.
And of course – donate to the SWIM Fund at the NAMM Foundation website: https://www.nammfoundation.org/DONATE/SMART-WOMEN-IN-MUSIC
The SWIM Fund @ Summer NAMM
The SWIM Fund will be hosting their annual SWIM Meet, a networking event at Summer NAMM from 4:30 to 5:30 pm on Thursday, July 18, 2019 in the Music City Convention Center, Level 2, Room 201. In addition to this, be on the lookout for further updates from SWIM in a quarterly article in Music Inc. magazine.
Having a hard time making it to Summer NAMM? The SWIM Fund is offering six scholarship opportunities to qualified applicants to attend 2019 Summer NAMM in Nashville. The one-time stipend of $600 can be used to support travel expenses, housing and other Summer NAMM expenses. Applications are due March 15, 2019 and applicants must meet participation requirements.
To review the requirements and to apply for The SWIM Fund Summer NAMM scholarship opportunity visit