BR Q&A: Women’s Rights Champion Catt Sadler on Raising Her Voice
I will not stop talking about this issue until the playing field is level for all.”
Banana Republic, a brand co-founded by a woman, stands for equality and women’s rights today and every day. Our parent company, Gap Inc., was included once again in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index this year for a commitment to transparency in gender reporting and advancing women’s equality. When we saw an opportunity to work with Catt Sadler, we were thrilled. Catt is a TV host and journalist who played a huge role in the #TimesUp movement when she famously stepped down from a career at a major network, after learning of a pay disparity between herself and her male counterpart. We love that she stands for equal rights and female empowerment. In celebration of International Women’s Day, we asked Catt a few questions about her work, raising her voice and living a life with no boundaries.
BR: You launched The Cattwalk, an online media company and created an empowering place for women. What was your inspiration, and what are your plans for the near future?
Catt: I have left my mark on many different media platforms–TV, Instagram, Twitter–but I wanted to cultivate a space where women could come and be inspired that was uniquely my own, created from the ground up. Not just a witty tweet, not a highlight reel on Instagram, but an online destination that was uniquely my voice and encapsulated the many sides of me. But more importantly, I wanted to grow the website into a series of compelling conversations with phenomenal women from all industries and return to my roots of interviewing. We’ve had Gwyneth Paltrow get real about GOOP, Amy Schumer on accepting her body, Molly Shannon tell stories about her days at SNL and young entrepreneurs open up about breaking into the beauty industry. Of course, there are some ways to shop my personal closet, my editorials on aging and links to my Youtube channel as well.
You started the interview series NAKED, where you speak with women about raw, honest topics. What has been your favorite conversation so far and why?
It’s hard to pick one! I feel so overjoyed that these remarkable females are opening up in the way they are–it’s just mind-blowing. We tape our interviews in my bedroom, so there truly is an intimate feel to the show. My favorite convo so far might be with actress Olivia Munn. Not only was it highly unexpected, but she opened up in a way that will surprise our listeners. Tears are shed but most importantly, I think our audience will connect to her pain, heartbreak, and ultimately her ability to recover from a really difficult time in her life.
You are a voice for the Time’s Up and women’s rights movements. How did you get involved and why is this important to you?
I like to say that I now have an obligation to speak out about gender pay inequality in the workplace. I found myself in an unfair work dynamic, so I refused to stay at my job. I now know it’s my responsibility to take what I’ve learned from the experience and share with other women across all industries. What can they do to make sure they aren’t underpaid or undervalued? How can they negotiate more effectively? The disparity in pay between men and women is pervasive and even worse if you are a woman of color. I have a reach and I will not stop talking about this issue until the playing field is level for all.
You left your job after discovering a major pay disparity between you and your male counterpart and cited other brave women who used their voices before you, which gave you the courage to speak up. Who were those women and what was that defining moment like for you?
Jennifer Lawrence first wrote an open letter about the pay disparity between her and her male co-stars. I was amazed by her bold and unapologetic take on the issue. Many other women were speaking out about being victims of sexual assault and harassment. I was in awe of their strength to come forward regardless of the repercussions. They definitely fueled me towards sharing my story. Exiting my job and then choosing to explain why was frightening, to say the least, but I haven’t regretted it for a single second.
How have these women inspired you to pay it forward?
There’s often a domino effect–when one woman takes a stand, it empowers others to do the same. They did it unknowingly for me, and I’ve heard from many women and girls who acknowledge that my choice did the same for them. It’s humbling, astonishing and affirms that there are in fact real injustices happening every day.
You have two teenage boys and have described your family as your “proudest accomplishment.” How do you teach your sons to empower and uplift women? And why is it important?
Men are our allies! Good, strong, virtuous men are everywhere! My boys are compassionate, kind beings who actually haven’t needed a whole lot of coaching on the subject. There is a bevy of trailblazing women in my family, so they’ve grown up respecting women in general. But it’s imperative that they continue to use their voices on our behalf. To remain silent on these issues is to almost endorse the wrongdoing. I think they are starting to understand that.
What makes you feel empowered and why?
Working to make meaningful change in the world alongside my sisterhood of diverse women empowers me.
On that note, what clothing makes you feel most empowered and why?
A power suit always does the job. I like a structured suit with a strong silhouette.
Working to make meaningful change in the world alongside my sisterhood of diverse women empowers me.”
What advice do you have for other women who are in a place where they need to raise their voice, but don’t have the confidence?
Build up the courage in a myriad of ways. Record your wins and accomplishments. Keep track of your successes. Allow that to grow proof of your worth. And find tools to tune out the noise and negativity. Meditate, read affirmations, write down each day why you deserve the best for yourself!
What does living a life with no boundaries mean to you?
It means having a radical vision and living that purpose out loud–not the least bit concerned about the judgments of others.
In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re proudly donating $5 from the sale of each item in our Equality Collection to the nonprofit CARE, with a portion supporting Gap Inc.’s P.A.C.E. program – which educates and empowers women in the communities where our products are made. Show your support by shopping the collection.