ONE YEAR LATER
I woke up early this morning. Couldn’t sleep. A slight restlessness. And if I’m honest, all month I’ve been feeling extra emotional as this was the time last year when things would change forever. For me and for many others, a reckoning began.
One year ago today I said goodbye to a job and a work family I had known for more than a decade. I closed the door on a particular chapter of my professional life. And in this same space online, I shared my reasons why. My truth. My rejection of a less-than-fair work place reality.
I remember looking into the lens for the last time on December 19th 2018 expressing my gratitude to the viewers around the world for their loyalty and support all those years. My boss was just a few feet past my camera eyeline, still enthusiastically inviting me to the holiday party that night. He had no idea I would soon share the reason for my departure publicly. We were glossing over my unhappiness with an odd denial that was uncomfortable for us both.
I drove away from work crying, alone, with the magnitude of what was happening weighing on me heavily.
A popular media outlet scooped the reason for my exit a few hours later, my blog post went live simultaneously, and what transpired was beyond my wildest imagination.
People cared. People were upset. Loyal viewers who watched the network consistently knew that the disparity between my male counterpart and I was glaringly unfair. Fuck titles. Fuck AM or PM. Fuck “Catt has a website so we don’t have to pay her as much because she enjoys liberties other employees do not.” The bottom line is he made double the pay for a similar position, similar job, with similar tenure, and a comparable public profile - the list goes on. The only notable difference was he was a man, and I was a woman. He, like so many men, enjoyed the fruits that the boys club was serving. Not his fault. And no fault of mine that I refused to accept it.
My story isn’t singular. The reason my story resonated with so many people is because too many women have been walking in similar shoes for far too long. We all have a story to tell, right? Every working woman has a story to tell. Chances are at some point in her professional life she was undervalued, or objectified, or belittled, or sadly suffering some on-the-job indignity in silence.
After the Golden Globes red carpet rally, I knew then I had new work to do. I had to help harness a collective energy for all the women out there who were making less than their similarly situated male co-workers, the females who were being passed up for the promotions they deserved, all the new moms who were being denied paid maternity leave (and then forced to pump breast milk in an office closet), all the women who were being preyed upon and taken advantage of by men with the power to hire or fire them. Time was up and I was right there with my stopwatch.
I don’t want to keep regurgitating this story but I do want to say thank you. I am so humbled by everything that has happened this year. Your support fuels me forward every single day. To the complete strangers who unexpectedly high-five me in the streets, to my family, my children, and my loved ones picking me up on those days when I lose confidence: I cherish you.
I was scared. Some days I still am. There’s a lot less security when you have your own business, but on the other side of a really unfortunate reality have come countless rewards. I have learned so much about myself both as an entrepreneur and as an artist. How can I contribute more in a way that leaves a lasting impact? Figuring out how to navigate this new season has challenged me in ways I never expected. But the end result has been mounds of personal growth and an undeniable desire to create. The freedom to do this each day feels sensational and luckily – knock on wood - I’ve been able to pay my bills and completely support my two boys.
So many of you have asked when I’ll be returning to TV and on that note I’m happy to announce that after a much needed respite, I’m joining forces with TNT to host and executive produce new programming for the network. I am so crazy excited to roll up my sleeves and create compelling, female-centric lifestyle content at the start of the year.
So, listen, it has been a remarkable twelve months. The opportunity to speak on issues of equal pay, to align with companies who support these critical virtues, and to contribute to the panel circuit has been really meaningful. Running theCATTWALK and generating new ideas and strategies for growth and social impact has been completely gratifying. My NAKED interviews will continue as a podcast in 2019 and oh, keep an eye out for me on YouTube, too. Yes, that’s a tease.
With complete and sincere gratitude and big big love,