With high-profile sexual harassment scandals proliferating and millions joining the viral #MeToo social movement, speakers at the 13th annual Massachusetts Conference for Women took on this major social tipping point.
Academy Award winning actress Meryl Streep announced that she and other women in the entertainment industry plan to soon issue “non-negotiable” demands to improve the American workplace, including equal representation in board rooms, entertainment and other industries. “We are after 50/50 by 2020,” Streep said. “Equal means equal. And if it starts at the top, none of these shenanigans would have filtered down and it wouldn’t have been tolerated.”
The two-day event, attracting a record audience of 16,000, started on the day TIME Magazine featured “The Silence Breakers” on the cover of its annual “Person of the Year” issue, recognizing those who are stepping forward to confront their harassers.
“It’s such an interesting moment, because this conversation about why this is so widespread, this is really worth having and it’s fantastic,” Streep said. “I can’t help thinking it’s just a door that’s opening to a better world.”
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh also addressed the Conference. Other keynote speakers included stage, television and Academy Award-winning actor Viola Davis, fashion designer, philanthropist and author Diane von Furstenberg, and Adam Grant, top-rated Wharton Professor and best-selling co-author, with Sheryl Sandberg, of “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy,” also headlined the event.
Themed “The Power of Us: Amplify Your Voice,” the annual nonpartisan, nonprofit Conference, brings together thousands of professionals to connect, renew, and find inspiration in community. The event features more than 150 thought leaders and industry experts from across the country in the fields of leadership, building networks, branding, philanthropy, finance, work-life balance, happiness and civility in the workplace and life.
For the third year, the Conference presented its Workplace Summit, designed to promote gender partnerships and advance equity within workplaces, featuring Adam Grant, cultural innovator Verná Myers, and other thought leaders. The third annual Opening Night at the Conference, on December 6, featured Gloria Steinem, Bethenny Frankel, Skinnygirl founder, author, and branding guru; Barbara Lynch, restaurateur and award-winning chef; Cindy Guerra Robbins, President, Chief People Officer for salesforce.com; and spoken word poet Sarah Kay.
“We are proud to have become the must-attend event for women, men and anyone who advocates for societal, workplace and political equality for women,” said Gloria Larson, President of the Massachusetts Conference for Women Board. “We are confident that attendees will take the extraordinary experiences and learnings from the Conference, the Workplace Summit, and Opening Night, and apply them to their lives and in their communities all year long.”