We just heard some really exciting news and wanted to share it with you!

Shoptalk, the retail industry’s largest event with 8,000 attendees each year, has announced that its 2020 conference (March 22-March 25, Las Vegas) will feature an all-women speaker lineup, including track sessions and main stage keynotes alike. Why? Because while there are many women founding companies, driving startups forward and rising through the ranks at brands, retailers and technology companies, there are still far too few women at the most senior levels in the retail industry. Therefore, “the move is necessary to propel our industry forward and showcase many incredibly talented women who are working to transform retail in every way,” according to a blog post from Zia Daniell Wigder, Shoptalk’s chief global content officer.

“This problem is by no means unique to retail — there are now more college-educated women than men in the workforce, yet the percentage of S&P 500 companies led by women still remains at just 5 percent, a percentage that’s simply unacceptable and untenable,” Wigder wrote. “We’ve always worked hard to do the right thing, no matter how difficult or inconvenient that might be. For us that means putting the industry first. We’ve therefore asked our [more than] 60 confirmed male speakers for Shoptalk 2020 to nominate a woman at their organizations to take their place as a speaker. That way our audience will still hear from the most prominent brands in the industry that are already set to speak.”

Wigder admitted that the all-female speaker approach may seem extreme, but added, “we think extreme problems require extreme solutions. Our goal has always been to drive the industry in the right direction, and we feel the time is long overdue for women to be leading the dialogue.”

Starting in 2021, Shoptalk will feature 50/50 male and female speakers going forward.

We here at the Women in Retail Leadership Circle are excited about the news. What do you think? Please send me your thoughts via email (mcampanelli@napco.com), or chat about it in our members forum! WIRLC will also be part of Shoptalk 2020 as well. We are hosting a lounge area on the show floor on Mon., March 23 and Tues., March 24. At the lounge we will have featured chats with rockstar women in retail on a variety of topics! We’ll also have some fun activations, swag bags, networking opportunities, and much more. We hope to see you in Las Vegas!