Shoptalk Doesn’t Have the Best Female Speakers--We Have the Best Speakers. Full Stop.

Jan 30, 2020 by Zia Daniell Wigder

With just over 50 days until Shoptalk kicks off in Las Vegas on March 22, we’re getting close to finalizing the all-women agenda we announced back in November (in future years, we’re committing to 50/50 gender parity). The momentum has translated into our most successful year to date, with speaker confirmations, attendee registrations and sponsorships all at unprecedented levels. We’ve passed 250 speakers and couldn’t be more proud of the lineup. 


Our Speaker Lineup Is Phenomenal By Any Measure

While having 100% women speakers is what’s topped recent headlines, it’s critical to note that the Shoptalk 2020 speaker lineup is unparalleled by any measure in terms of both seniority and representation from different types of companies. It’s not the industry’s best lineup of female speakers--it’s the industry’s best speaker lineup.

While the overwhelming feedback for our initiative was supportive, a handful of early naysayers argued that our move to all women would somehow result in a less impressive set of speakers and topics. But we did not compromise on quality to achieve our goal--we simply dug deeper to find executives who are not typically on the retail event speaking circuit or who are generally not the “go-to” speaker candidates within organizations. In fact, approximately 75% of our speakers will be joining us on stage at Shoptalk for the very first time, bringing fresh new perspectives to the retail conversation. This ability to go to organizations and get them to think differently about whom they provide as speakers--and why--is a critical part of the difference we set out to make. 

A few stats on our all-women lineup to date:

Seniority. 28% of our speakers in 2020 are CEOs and Founders, 27% are C-Level Executives. That’s 55% C-Level and above! An additional 32% are VP Level, making for an incredibly senior speaker lineup.

Established vs. Startup. 41% of speakers come from Established Companies, 38% from Startups, and 21% are Media, Analysts or Investors.

Company Type. Our speaker lineup includes 43% Retailers and Brands, 29% Emerging Tech Companies, and 16% other organizations including Media, Consulting and Research.

Trailblazers. Our speakers are true retail trailblazers. Shoptalk 2020 speakers include industry leaders like Mary Dillon, CEO, Ulta Beauty (one of the best performing retail stocks of the decade), Katrina Lake, Founder and CEO, Stitch Fix (the youngest woman to take a company public) and Kathryn McLay, the new CEO, Sam’s Club (a $60 billion retail business). Other speakers breaking new ground include the CEOs of Athleta, Build-A-Bear and Glamsquad, as well as the CMOs of FedEx, Salesforce, Frito-Lay, Whole Foods and more. 


Four Key Reasons We Moved to 100% Female Speakers

Finally, as we get close to completing our list of speakers, we wanted to highlight why we believe a move to an all-women lineup is critical--and why we truly believe our approach is the right thing to do. We’re highlighting female leaders in 2020 for four reasons: 

  1. There is a spotlight on speakers at large events like ours, and it’s critical that women at all levels of retail organizations see female leadership to be able to envision themselves in these roles.
  2. We want to raise the profile of the women transforming retail so that they are increasingly tapped for speaking roles, media profiles, promotions and other opportunities.
  3. We want to remove the excuse conference organizers often make that there just aren’t enough qualified female speakers to put on stage to reach gender parity. We want it to be very clear that’s not the case and that content can be amazing whether presented by men or women. 
  4. Finally, we want to emphasize the importance of having women in key speaker roles across the entire conference agenda. It’s not sufficient to have smaller-format, women-focused sessions to reach the gender parity goal. Events that don’t give female speakers equal opportunity to address the main audience will fall short on #1 and #2 above.

Shoptalk 2020 is going to be a truly groundbreaking event and an experience unlike any other--anywhere--to date. We hope you’ll join us.