Twitter CMO Leslie Berland Addresses CES 2018 Gender Imbalance


CES 2017 crowd

When the CES 2018 roster of keynote speakers was announced on November 29th with nary a female speaker at the world’s biggest technology event, the response was swift and firm, including an action alert from the women’s organization GenderAvenger and this tweet from Twitter Chief Marketing Officer Leslie Berland:

“All men should boycott CES if women are not invited to speak!” HP Global CMO Antonio Lucio tweeted. “Insulting in this day and age. We must do better!”

Making good on her promise, Berland announced on Monday that, just over a week later, she had pulled together a powerhouse line-up of women for a keynote session that she will be moderating at CES on Wednesday, January 10th.

The topic: #HereWeAre — Women in Tech Today. Tomorrow. Credited as a “Twitter #SheInspiresMe Production,” the speakers include Padmasree Warrior, CEO of NIO U.S.; Kara Swisher, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Editor of Recode; Myrna Soto, Corporate SVP and Global CISO for Comcast; Morgan DeBaun, Co-Founder and CEO, Blavity; Kimberly Bryant, Founder of Black Girls Code; and GE CMO Linda Boff.

As Berland tweeted in explaining her panel and speedy response:

1/ I’m thrilled to announce this lineup of amazing women in tech who will be hitting the Twitter stage during CES on Jan 10th! We’ll also livestream on Twitter via @twitterwomen. #HereWeAre #ChangeTheRatio

2/ The hardest part of pulling this event together quickly was choosing from all the women who are leading, inspiring and driving our industry forward. We’ll proudly spotlight these women, their stories and advice.

3/ This event isn’t about the lack of women on the CES keynote stage, it’s about all the women who belong on stages, lists and panels across industries, around the world.

4/ Let’s all make a commitment in 2018 to not accept the status quo. Women are to be seen and to be heard, they’re to be supported and elevated. Let’s be intentional about putting them forward, out in front, where they belong.

5/ Thanks to the women and men who have been raising their voices and amplifying the message. In the spirit of this event, I’ll close with this: #SheInspiresMe

The CTA, which organizes CES, had defended its all-male keynote announcement with a blog post (that failed to sway the GenderAvenger team) by SVP Karen Chupka that noted how “our staff is two-thirds female, we win awards for being a family friendly place to work, and fun fact: the CES executive team is run entirely by women.

“We champion diversity of all types—gender, ethnicity, thought and beyond—and our show reflects that value. We’re proud of our record in welcoming a diversity of speakers to the CES keynote stage including General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty and Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer.

“In the last eleven years, we’ve had 21 keynote spots held by women. But, the keynote stage is just one CES platform. We had roughly 275 female speakers (including two all-female panels) this past January and expect similar numbers for CES 2018.”

“The currently planned CES 2018 keynote panel contains (A&E Networks CEO) Nancy Dubuc not to mention (Discovery Communications CEO) David Zaslav. Also Aryeh Bourkoff and other panelists will fill in those slots which are empty for now.”

Twitter will be keeping a close eye as CES draws near, and not just by its global marketing team or Twitter Women, but via TicToc — its new real-time news service powered by Bloomberg that’s launching on Monday.