December 11, 2019 I SWIM I by Liz Benoit Crew

Finding New Voices

Humans, we hear, are drawn to new and different things. Introducing change into one’s life can be transformative, bringing with it the hope for a better, more enriching experience. Novelty is generally thought of as an attractive, alluring prospect, and the music retail industry is no stranger to this line of thinking. We hope that our customers are tugged towards each new product launch by the promise of innovation and optimization.

So then—if newness is such an enticing prospect—why do our work spaces sometimes look and feel less diverse than even our own national statistics, which, according to the July 2018 Census, puts women in the U.S. slightly in the majority at 50.8%? While there are more women leading Fortune 500 companies than ever before – 6.6% in 2019, according to Forbes – only an estimated 2.4% of music retail companies have a woman at the helm.

If newness is such an enticing prospect, why do our work spaces sometimes look and feel less diverse than even our own national statistics?

So why do we need to bring up words like diversity and inclusion to improve here? Because even in the face of data that suggests that greater diversity is profitable for all the logical reasons—more engagement, more innovation—there’s still the sticky issue of there being only 24 hours in a day. People who don’t think like you, look like you, love like you or pray like you often require time to understand, and commerce is an impatient animal. Furthermore, just trying to find diverse candidates can require an investment of time and resources that can feel anathematic to the bottom line.

Jerry Goldenson, president and CEO of KHS America, found himself allowed the luxury of time while searching for a new member of his executive team and recognized it as a way to personally impact his organization by seeking out a female candidate. He explains his approach here:

“There is no reason we shouldn’t be able to find the right person for our team and maintain or bring us closer to a diversified and culturally rich work environment. We are not as diverse as we’d like, but it has to start somewhere and our team is taking the time and patience to get the most qualified people involved. We believe we can do that by aggressively searching for talent that best reflects the incredible diversity of our country’s workforce. Smart and talented people are everywhere and to ignore or not make the effort to find those talents in almost half of the available workforce is a disservice to your company and our industry.”

As the leader of his organization, Goldenson legitimized the time and effort KHS spent finding the right candidates simply by deciding it was, for him, “the right thing to do.” KHS America hired a woman as its new director of marketing. Making an active choice to seek diversity delivered the right person to the right organization, but it also reflects a broader mission now instilled in KHS. Almost 47% of KHS is female because it has made this a priority.

If you find yourself searching for ways to bring diversity and inclusion into your own organization, consider the choices you can make. Choose to engage your leaders about how to conduct talent searches, and, if you are a leader, ask yourself where and how you find new voices. Support minority perspectives and career paths and get to know the new hires. Take action to make your workspace a friendly, open place—one that anyone will want to work in. One day everyone may want to! Know that the role that you play, no matter where you sit in an organization, is a part of this process. MI

Liz Benoit Crew is a current Smart Women in Music (SWIM) investor and a senior product specialist at D’Addario & Co. based in Farmingdale, New York. SWIM supports women in the music products industry in the development of their leadership proficiencies and aspirations. Get involved by signing up at To donate to the fund, go to

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