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All Shoptalk Speakers Will Be Women Next Year

The future is female, as the saying goes—and that will be especially true at one of retail’s biggest gatherings next year.

Every single one of the estimated 225 speakers, moderators and interviewers gracing the Shoptalk stages in 2020 will be a woman, the retail conference company announced Wednesday. This move by Shoptalk, which attracted 8,000 attendees earlier this year, is thought to be a first among large-scale events. In the years ahead, speakers will be balanced 50/50 between men and women.

The retail industry is fortunate to have a “really deep bench of incredibly talented women” relative to other sectors that struggle to populate executive-level roles with female talent, Shoptalk chief global content officer Zia Daniell Wigder told Sourcing Journal. Shoptalk will draw on its network of past female speakers to source stage-level talent and also works closely with organizations dedicated to promoting women in the retail industry.

“We’re anxious to…hear from people who can help us identify candidates that we might not have been aware of ourselves,” she said, noting the opportunity to highlight diverse women from a range of backgrounds as well.

“Women are often reticent to speak publicly, particularly if they haven’t done it before,” Wigder said, adding, “There are many great speakers, many women with amazing insights that I think will have a unique opportunity to be showcased on stage time around.”

Though women will be taking over at Shoptalk, the content will maintain its focus on the pressing issues challenging retail today. Thousands of brand, retail and tech executives flock to Shoptalk’s Las Vegas setting from all over the world each year to “hear about the transformation of retail and that’s what we will be delivering in 2020,” Wigder explained.

Themes at Shoptalk 2020 will mirror the seismic shift reshaping the industry. Sustainability, Wigder said, is just one topic that’s “going to be bigger than ever before” and “something that the entire industry is realizing they need to be addressing.”

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And retailers are just beginning to understand that their attention should be on people and not simply on maximizing profit. “The role of purpose in business is also going to be front and center, as increasingly consumers are looking to brands to take a stand and to do the right thing,” Wigder said.

But Shoptalk will also feature plenty of content continuing the dominant topics in recent years, from the future of the store and experiential retail to AI, robotics and the role of automation.

Going all-in on women next year was the only way to “move the needle” in diversifying the faces on stage, Wigder noted.

“Speaker gender parity in 2020 would have been relatively easy, but it would not have shifted the dialogue in the way that we have done consistently,” Simran Rekhi Aggarwal, founder and president of Shoptalk, added. “Is this all-female speaker approach extreme? Absolutely, but we think extreme problems require extreme solutions.”

Shoptalk 2020 will take place March 22-25 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.