Join the SWIM Team!

By Andrea Pelloquin, West Music Company

Have you heard of the SWIM Team yet?  SWIM stands for Smart Women In Music, and it is a program that “supports women in the music products industry and helps them develop their leadership aspirations and broaden and deepen their leadership proficiencies” (SWIM, 2019).  The program is a part of the NAMM Foundation and was founded by three smart women in music: DeDe Heid (Heid Music), Crystal Morris (Gator Co.), and Robin Walenta (West Music).

Since the program was founded almost a year ago, the SWIM Team has been raising money and planning programs to connect, support, and grow women’s futures in our industry.  There was a SWIM Meet at the Winter NAMM show to connect women (and the men who support them) and continue building the network.  Applications will soon be available for the mentorship program (for both mentors and mentees), and a 2-day Leadership Symposium is being planned for October at NAMM headquarters.  There’s a lot going on!

How do I Get Involved? 

You can get involved in two ways currently:

  1. Join the SWIM Team! Log on to the new website ( ) and sign up!  The SWIM Team is creating a network of women and men who want to be a part of this movement.  It’s free, and all you need to provide is a little bit of information.  Join us!
  2. Donate! Help us build our fund to support the programs that will help women connect, support, and grow in their careers.  Donate through the NAMM Foundation:


Is This Really an Issue in Print? 

It’s an interesting question!  We don’t really have any solid data on the music industry specifically.  We know how many CEOs are women in the overall music industry (2.4% – this is actually lower than the national statistic of 4.6% female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies), but we don’t have any data on print only.  And we don’t know the composition of the employees in each of these organizations.  It’s not just who is at the top – it’s who is in the pipeline and whether they are able to (or want to) move up.  We’re working on the best way to collect this information on a large scale.

In the meantime, look at your own organization’s employees.  What percentage are female and male?  What departments have what ratios?  Are there more women at the top, middle, or lower half of the organization?  Are these numbers readily available?  Do you think your organization’s numbers are fine, or could they use improvement?

Watch for a form that you can fill out in a future newsletter to begin compiling this data, because it really is something we need to know to find out if we’re making any improvements with these new programs.

Food for Thought

I’ll leave you with a few findings from the national Women in the Workplace 2018 study conducted by McKinsey & Company and Lean In, Inc.:

Women are entering the pipeline at almost even rates compared to men.  But their numbers progressing upward in organizations are lower the higher they get.  Why?




Many use the excuse that more women are leaving to raise families / stay home with their children, so that’s why men advance farther.  The survey says this is not necessarily true.  Men and women leave at almost the same rates.  So what is keeping women from advancing?

I encourage you to look at the whole Women in the Workplace report and compare its findings with your own organization.  I recommend reading the “road map to gender equality” section (p 38) to see how your organization compares with the best practices listed.  Is there more you could do?  Watch for your opportunity to contribute to our own industry statistics in a future newsletter issue.

Let’s go SWIMming!   I welcome your feedback!


Andrea Pelloquin is an Education Consultant for Print Materials with West Music Company.  She is also a doctoral student at Creighton University studying interdisciplinary leadership, with her dissertation research on gender equality in business.