Catt Sadler on what gave her the courage to walk away from E!


Catt Sadler didn't set out to be one of the modern-day faces for women's equality, but when the former E! News host faced gender inequality in the workplace, she spoke up.

The longtime TV personality exited the network last year after learning her male co-star was earning double her salary. After attempting to negotiate her contract, Sadler was denied, so she did the brave thing and went out on her own. Her latest project as Lord + Taylor's official Resident Style Expert includes a curated shop launching on the site with all of her favorite fall picks.

With Women's Equality Day coming up on Sunday, August 26th and her latest fashion project, sat down with Sadler at the Whitby Hotel in NYC to discuss everything from the advice she has for young women to her born-and-raised Midwest style.

AOL: Of course, we are here to talk about women equality - What gave you the courage to stand up to the network about the issue you were facing with equal pay?

CS: Courage is a funny thing. I was really listening to my soul and my inner self. I was tuning into what I knew was right for me personally. I think a lot of people have to tune into that to be able to take the leap like I did. But for me, I was left with no other option. I have to live my truth and be true to what I believe in. So, at the end of the day, that’s what propelled me forward.

What was your biggest fear about speaking out?

It was about my family and providing for my two kids and knowing the risk involved from walking away from my job and the security and stability associated with that. I also had a nest egg built up, if you will. I tell a lot of women that what saved me in a lot of ways is that I had my own brand, my own website. I had built that and spent a lot of energy and time curating my own business in addition to being a TV host. I had the luxury to walk away because I could. It still was scary and it still wasn’t easy and there were still no guarantees that I would ever work again but I had that to rely on. So, that gave me a confidence and a certain power that I might not have had otherwise.

I definitely think everyone also knows you outside the E! Network, but then what advice can you give women who might not necessarily have the platform you have?

There’s so much advice I can give women now and I am by no means an expert. I’ve kind of been ejected into this movement because I was doing what I thought was right for myself. But I know so many women are underpaid and undervalued and in order to change that, it really starts with using your voice. You don’t get what you don’t ask for. It really starts with being brave and having those sometimes-awkward conversations with your employer or your superior at work.

And you have to try and start from the beginning. I tell a lot of younger girls this now too: There is evidence that the first salary you get out of college is really the one that follows you throughout your career so if you start low, you’re going to be playing catch up the rest of your life. You really have to negotiate a fair salary at the start. That’s already going to put you ahead of the curve a little bit.

Also, keep a record of your accomplishments. Know your worth, but you have to back that up. You have to keep track of all of the things along the way you do and the success you have. So, that when it is time to get a promotion or you’re up for a promotion, you can go in and say "Look, this is what I’ve done, now pay me my worth and what I deserve!"

I love your Instagram and following your style. What are you most excited about for fall fashion?

Fall fashion is probably one of my absolute favorites. I grew up in the Midwest so I was very much in layers and jackets. I am a coat fanatic. If you check out my curated shop on Lord +, there a lot of really cool pieces and coats are included!

What are you most excited about collaborating with this type of major retailer?

I’ve been a fan forever and I’ve shopped Lord + Taylor forever. I love what they believe in and stand for beyond just being able to get clothes at a good price that are fashion forward. They really have always been champions of women. Even years ago [1945], they were one of the first retailers to have a female president and Vanessa [Lefebvre], who is currently in the role, is just amazing. They really do believe in women’s equality and that’s why we are here. Everything they believe in is right in line with my core values so it’s an easy partnership.

Shop Catt's curated shop in the gallery below!