CES catches backlash for announcing all-male keynote speaker lineup

A CES 2017 panel

CES organizers are coming under fire for announcing a keynote speaker lineup that’s overwhelmingly white and male.

The 2018 lineup of chief executive keynote speakers is absent of women and features six men, five of whom are white. Speakers include Intel’s Brian Krzanich, Ford’s Jim Hackett, Huawei’s Richard Yu, Turner’s John Martin, Hulu’s Randy Freer and the Consumer Technology Association’s Gary Shapiro.

On Twitter, Cindy Gallop called the current lineup “unacceptable,” telling CES that it has “5 weeks to do better.” Industry heavyweights including former president of PepsiCo’s global beverage group Brad Jakeman and HP chief marketing officer Antonio Lucio also weighed in on Twitter, with the latter stating: “We must change: No panel without females. No event without female and people of color keynotes!” In another tweet, he said that “all men should boycott @CES if women are not invited to speak!”

Steven Wolfe Pereira, chief marketing officer of Quantcast, said that it’s “insulting not to have any #women, #Black or #Latino innovators speaking” at a conference that claims to be on the bleeding edge of innovation and technology.

JPMorgan Chase chief marketing officer Kristin Lemkau offered up a list of executive women that she said “would kill a keynote.” 3% Conference founder Kat Gordon quipped that “CES must stand for ‘Chaps Exclusively on Stage.’”

In response to the criticism, the Consumer Technology Association - the organization behind CES - has been somewhat mum on what, if any, plans it has to make its keynote lineup more diverse.

Last week, the association’s senior vice president of CES Karen Chupka said on Twitter that the conference, which takes place in Las Vegas every January, has “a long tradition of diverse keynoters highlighting the latest in technology.”

In the days since, Jakeman has called out CES for largely staying silent on the matter aside from Chupka’s tweet.

The Consumer Technology Association has not responded to The Drum’s request for comment.

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Minda Smiley

Minda Smiley is a senior reporter at The Drum covering brands. During her time at The Drum, she has covered industry events including SXSW, ANA Masters of Marketing, 4A’s Transformation and C2 Montréal. She is a graduate of the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism.

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