CES organisers face backlash following all-male keynote lineup

Organiser of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Consumer Technology Association (CTA), came under fire from industry professionals such as Cindy Gallop, Brad Jakeman and several others, for having all-male keynote speakers. Moreover, five out of six of them were white. GenderAvenger, a group dedicated to ensuring females are represented in dialogue, first noticed the line up and issued an action alert recently, calling on CES to take action.

"For a show marketed as 'the world's gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies', it sure seems like 'for all' really means 'for all men. You still have over five weeks to make this right, CES," the action alert red.

Industry experts took to Twitter to show their disapproval of the all-male lineup. Ad industry veteran Cindy Gallop called the lineup "unacceptable" and like GenderAvenger, urged them to do better within the next five weeks.

Hewlett Packard's global chief marketing and communications officer Antonio Lucio said the lineup was inconceivable and "this must stop". Former president, global beverage group at PepsiCo Brad Jakeman, commented that diversity drives innovation and also urged CES organisers to do better.

Meanwhile, CMO at JP Morgan Chase Kristin Lemkau tweeted a list of potential female keynote speakers, adding that it took her "about five minute" to compile the list of names which are "by no means complete".

In a statement on its website, CTA said it champions diversity of all types - gender, ethnicity, thought and beyond – and CES reflects that value. It added that CES had about 275 female speakers, including two all-female panels, during this year's conference and expects similar numbers for next year's event.

"To keynote at CES, the speaker must head (president/CEO level) a large entity who has name recognition in the industry. As upsetting as it is, there is a limited pool when it comes to women in these positions. We feel your pain. It bothers us, too. The tech industry and every industry must do better," the statement read.

CTA added that while it is still securing speakers at all levels for CES 2018, the current programme features high-profile women speakers in technology, entertainment and business. CTA also said that it will continue to spotlight diversity at the show and are eager to release more announcements to its speaker lineup.