At a time of deepening backlash against sexual harassment in the workplace, attendees at the 18th Annual Texas Conference for Women received encouragement from Anita Hill, whose testimony during the 1991 confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas ignited a national conversation that has taken on increasing urgency today.
“The energy, even the anger of this moment, says that we are ready to end sexual harassment. We are ready to share our truth,” said Hill, now a civil rights leader and professor of social policy, law and women’s studies at Brandeis University. “I am ready to believe that we outnumber the deniers, the enablers and the abusers.”
Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, and the best-selling author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead also addressed harassment, calling on society to hold not only perpetrators, but their companies accountable as well. Sandberg also joined Wharton professor Adam Grant, co-author of Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy.
Attendees also heard keynote addresses from Viola Davis, Academy Award-winning actress of screen, stage and television, and Mallika Chopra, media entrepreneur and author of Living With Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy. The nonpartisan, nonprofit Conference featured dozens of sessions led by 100+ experts in the fields of leadership, career advancement, finance, social media, personal branding, community service, health and wellness.
“We see that coming together, 7500 strong, leads women and men alike to realize their power to change the workplace and create more opportunity for all,” said Johnita Jones, Board President of the Texas Conference for Women. “In these fast-paced, eventful times, stepping away even for a day to focus, support and learn from each other is more valuable than ever.”
With Texas still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, community service remains a central element of the Conference. Attendees assembled kits for those affected by the hurricane. The Conference also partnered with the Rebuild Texas Fund and the Writers’ League of Texas to donate new children’s books to schools and families.
The Texas Conference for Women is generously sponsored by Rackspace; Liberty Mutual; Cisco; Dell; Oracle; Prudential Financial; State Farm; United Airlines; UnitedHealthcare; USAA; HEB; Texas Beverage Association; Accenture; AT&T; HomeAway; Mastercard; Phillips 66; RetailMeNot; Statoil; Applied Materials; Arm; Bonterra Organic Vineyards; Deloitte; Dickinson-Wright PLLC; Erin Condren; Huston-Tillotson University; Merck; Occidental Petroleum Corporation; QVC, Inc. and Silicon Labs. Media partners include Austin American-Statesman; Clear Channel Outdoor; KVUE; and The Texas Tribune.
“We believe deeply in the value of advancing women leaders, whether in technology or any other industry and discipline,” said Aimee Hoyt, Chief Human Resources Officer at Rackspace. “That is why Rackspace is proud to again partner with the Texas Conference for Women on our shared mission to provide the resources, understanding and connections that women can apply in their lives, workplaces and communities.”