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Media company AT&T held their annual Business Summit at the end of September, and Reese was a guest speaker on one of their panels. AT&T co-owns Hello Sunshine with Reese. Reese spoke about equality and diversity, and increasing the presence of women in technology. Read more about the panel below, and find photos in our Gallery:

AT&T Business Summit x6

At its second annual Business Summit in Texas last week, telecommunications giant AT&T showed its corporate savvy.

From diversity initiatives to vertical-specific IoT solutions, AT&T is actively working to stay at the leading edge of a tumultuous, rapidly changing business landscape. That commitment fully extends to its channel.

Uniquely positioned to facilitate the convergence of the IT and telco channels, the company is charging both agents and MSPs to learn new skills and to develop new partnerships that will help all parties compete in an IoT-enabled business landscape. More than many stilted IT and telco behemoths, AT&T showed at the Summit that it has its fingers on the pulse of the world at large, not just as it exists within corporate America. It wants to both lead and support a socially responsible tech sector that delivers fast, uninterrupted connection to power both industries and individuals.

Diversity Initiatives

Diversity was one of the major themes running throughout this year’s Summit, with an entire track of sessions held in what was dubbed the “Equality Lounge” examining the role that AT&T and business in general should play in evening the playing field for minority groups in technology. Actress and producer Reese Witherspoon and AT&T’s chief brand officer Fiona Carter took the stage to talk about their experiences and what they’re each doing to promote women in business in their own work.

“There is a crisis in advertising overall. It’s a very real challenge,” Carter said. “AT&T is one of the first advertisers to include a Gender Equality Measure (GEM) in … our advertising.”

Carter told the audience that about 90 percent of women don’t feel that advertisers understand them, and 85 percent say the media doesn’t recognize when women are portrayed as female stereotypes rather than people with their own agency. As part of a partnership with the Association of National Advertisers’ #SeeHer initiative, AT&T created a litmus test to evaluate ads based on positive portrayal of women. The resulting data shows that ads with higher GEM scores create elevated intent-to-purchase metrics and are more effective in creating brand loyalty.

(Channel Partners Online)

That kind of under-representation isn’t restricted to advertising. It’s a problem across media, and one that actress Reese Witherspoon has faced head on.

“For me, the aha moment that I needed to do something … was when I read a really, really bad script,” she told a packed room at the summit. “There was a lead [female] role opposite a big male role. And she was just the wife of a movie star.”

The character lacked depth, emotion and motivation. The audience basically knew nothing about her, Witherspoon said. When she confronted the filmmakers, they told her that every woman in Hollywood was dying for that role.

“If every actress in Hollywood wants this part, we need to start doing better,” she said.

So with her own investment, she launched Hello Sunshine in 2016. The company has since produced hits including the movie Wild and HBO series Big Little Lies, which co-starred Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley and Laura Dern alongside Witherspoon.

“It’s a ton of work, but I wake up in the world so fulfilled because I think about my daughter,” she said of her 19-year-old. “I want to see the everyday life she walks through to be reflected on the screen.”

Dallas News

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