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With Gender Equality in Mind, CES Makes Changes for 2020

By / Jul 17, 2019 (Derrick Story/Flickr)

The Consumer Technology Association will enforce a new booth dress code and work with an equality partner as part of its efforts to improve inclusivity at CES, one of the year’s biggest tradeshows.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) is putting a fresh focus on inclusion at its signature event, CES, with a series of new rules and programs that aims to make sure women in particular feel like they have a place at the event.

And one such strategy involves moving away from promotional models wearing revealing clothing at tradeshow booths—a practice that has faded in recent years, but hasn’t gone away entirely.

CTA has implemented a dress code for the event, with booths that violate it losing access to prominent exhibit hall space. “Booth personnel may not wear clothing that is sexually revealing or that could be interpreted as undergarments,” the association said in a press release.

“CTA is committed to evolving and continuing to create an experience at CES that is inclusive and welcoming for everyone,”Executive Vice President Karen Chupka added. “We worked with a number of external advisors and partners to update and improve our existing CES policies.”

Other changes to CES include the addition of a number of new programs with a focus on diversity, including an “Innovation for All” presentation track, and an expansion of the existing Faces of Innovation: Entrepreneurs Edition startup program, previously offered as a pilot. This program offers women and underrepresented entrepreneurs the opportunity to exhibit in its startup area through a grant and free exhibit space.

Additionally, the group will be teaming with The Female Quotient, a group focused on improving equality for women in the workplace, as an equality partner at next year’s event. The firm will host a lounge at CES that will highlight panel conversations that aim “to advance equality.”

CES will also add a “sex tech” category, which is being offered on a one-year trial basis. The category addition comes months after organizers faced criticism when they rescinded an innovation award they gave to startup company Lora DiCarlo for its device for women. In May, CTA apologized and reinstated the award.

When it returned the award, CTA acknowledged that the situation led to deeper discussions about changes that could be made to CES.

“This prompted some important conversations internally and with external advisors, and we look forward to taking these learnings to continue to improve the show,” said Jean Foster, CTA’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, in a May news release.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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