What 5 CMOs Are Doing to Change the Conversation About Gender Equality and Diversity

Chase, Keds and Toys R Us want to make a change

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For all the talk of championing diversity in the workplace, the news this week that next month’s Consumer Electronics Show will not include any women keynote speakers made waves in the technology and advertising industries, proving sexism runs deep and that there’s still an immense amount of work to be done.
Adweek asked five CMOs about what they’re doing to change gender equality within their own organizations and beyond. And from attending CES and talking about diversity to offering equal pay, here’s what they had to say:

Kristin Lemkau, Chase’s CMO

Lemkau is one of a handful of CMOs who have been tweeting since last weekend about CES’ lack of women keynote speakers. While she’s not attending, she also came up with her own list of potential speakers for CES’ organizers to consider.
Half of Chase’s operating committee and leadership team is made up of women. The brand also has a networking program specifically for women called Women on the Move, which has organized more than 6,000 women staffers in town hall-style meetings in more than 23 cities.
The program is based on eight principles like “talk each other up publicly and give feedback privately” and have “become much more of a place for women to empower each other and empower ourselves,” Lemkau said.
“We commit to openly taking about issues and then the senior women raise and try to resolve them,” she said. “I held one over the summer in Jacksonville, where women told me that one of the biggest barriers to women being productive and finding balance were bad meetings. That was one of the many reasons that led to declaring a war on bad meetings across the company and giving people their time back.”

Leslie Berland, CMO of Twitter

Berland hinted in her own tweets that Twitter may schedule its own programming at CES (as it has at South by Southwest and Cannes) called #SheInspiresMe.
Berland doubles as Twitter’s CMO and head of people. Overall, 37 percent of Twitter’s employees last year were women, making up 30 percent of leadership talent and 15 percent of technical roles. The company also offers equal pay for women.
“Twitter is committed to building an even more inclusive and diverse workforce,” said a spokesperson for Twitter. “This commitment includes the expansion of our inclusion and diversity programs, diversity recruiting, employee development and resource group-led initiatives, as well as publicly disclosing our annual workforce data and representation goals.”

Jamie Gutfreund, global CMO at Wunderman

Instead of boycotting CES, Gutfreund is going to the tech conference and plans to talk to attendees about tech’s lack of diversity—whether people want to or not.
“I’m looking forward to going to the event and seeing how many people still want to have the conversation while they’re there,” Gutfreund said. “I don’t think boycotting for me, personally, would limit my ability to have the conversation with people on the ground.”

Emily Culp, CMO of Keds

To gain more visibility for her team, Culp shares invites she gets to industry events with her women colleagues and coaches them for public speaking events.
She also encourages her team to get involved with activities outside of work like joining a local board or volunteering.
“Real business opportunities come out of these events, but you have to be present to network,” she said. “If you get the invitation to speak at a new forum, take it and make sure you meet one or two people on a personal or professional level and stay connected to them.”

Carla Hassan, CMO of Toys R Us

Hassan said she feels a responsibility to hire and mentor more women in the workplace because she’s both a woman and an immigrant.
“There are a number of things in the workplace we can do beginning with being vocal, mentoring and championing change,” she said. “Whether equality of pay, opportunities to advance or lack of inclusion throughout industry events that shape the future of business, we must voice and model the change we want to be.”

@laurenjohnson lauren.johnson@adweek.com Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.