Boycotting Indiana Means, Unfortunately, Boycotting Sweetwater Sound

Dear Sweetwater Sound,

I have bought thousands and thousands of dollars worth of musical equipment from you over the last dozen years or so but, unfortunately, you are located in Indiana and I cannot send any more money to a state in good conscience that legalizes bigotry and hatred in the name of religious 'freedom.'

I understand that your company has an anti-discrimination policy and that you may have spoken to the governor of Indiana but that's not enough for me.

I hope Sweetwater Sound takes a vociferous public stand against this new law and vigorously opposes it. When you do I will return as a regular customer.

Until you join the 21st Century, unfortunately, I am boycotting your business.

Hopefully, I'll be singing your praises as champions of civil and human rights here very soon.

Sincerely, IE


Well, as other firms in Indiana took a stand against the tyranny of theocrats, Sweetwater just stood on the sidelines, unwilling to offend their religious friends and customers. That got me thinking about Sweetwater's non-discrimination policy and I started looking at employee composition at the company. From what I can ascertain, Sweetwater is a paragon of non-diversity.

The Executive Team at Sweetwater is made up entirely of white males (18 of them) and the only female employee I could find works in a hospitality role as his exotic car dealership. Weird.

I've received phone calls and emails from Sweetwater for a dozen or so years and I only had contact with one woman one time -- an assistant to my regular sales rep. Weird.

I plowed through page after page of Google images for Sweetwater Sound and couldn't find any images of women that were obviously employees of the company (there must be some but where are they and what do they do?)

I've been watching Sweetwater YouTube videos for years and I don't recall any women.

So, I guess, from what one can glean from Sweetwater's own virtual presentation of self, women are either serving coffee or blending invisibly into the background or are simply non-existent.

I know Chuck Surack spends an inordinate amount of time online managing perceptions and the reputation of Sweetwater Sound (he's popped up at every guitar and recording forum I've ever participated in) so I know he'll be reading this (Hi, Chuck) so I'll be interested to see what rationalizations or explanations he has for the lack of diversity in his sizable labor force, at least at the visible, high-wage end of the spectrum.

Anyway, I'm happy that the Indiana boycott happened as it spurred me to take a look at a company that I always enjoyed doing business with. What I found was, frankly, disturbing.

I don't know if Indiana will ever get its act together (the mullahs have tweaked the law a bit but not to much satisfaction) but I will not be returning to Sweetwater as a customer until they manage to join the 21st Century. I just cannot support a company that lags behind, lost in some delusional version of 50s America where all but the mighty white male is pushed into the background or off to the sidelines.

Am I being unfair in singling out one company in a field that may be dominated by white males? Are they any different than other retailers of musical equipment? Well, this is the retailer that shoved a non-discrimination policy in my face as a way to excuse their indifference when it comes to social injustice. Policies either guide a firm or they are used defensively and cynically as a diversion.