Call of Duty
Meet a superwoman helping others connect and succeed in the workplace.
- Written byJulia Horwitz
Photographed by Kremer Johnson
Sarah Pendrick is the “Elle Woods” definition of girl power: long pink nails, long blonde ponytail and a handshake that lets you know she means business. Her nonprofit organization, GirlTalk LA, is all about that combination she effortlessly emanates: power, sisterhood and full-fledged fabulousness.
A five-year South Bay local and veteran businesswoman, Sarah saw that in the workplace women are stifled by two forces: unsurprisingly, men, but also other women. She calls this internal sexism “girl-on-girl crime” and plans to demolish it from the inside out. GirlTalk LA’s message is simple: “Her success is not your failure.”
GirlTalk LA hosts four Connect + Inspire events each year where women can network—“whether they’re CEOs or recent college grads.” These events make space explicitly for women to take up, and as Sarah puts it, “You walk in the door, and your armor comes off.”
At the first Connect + Inspire event in April, Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach was packed with more than 125 women, a star-studded panel, charity sponsors, amazing food and a Glam Booth. But there is one thing Sarah intentionally left out: name tags.
She explains, “I didn’t want to hear, ‘Hi, this is my name, this is what I do.’” She knows it’s more complex than that. “You had to introduce yourself to people you might not normally talk to. This made the environment so much more relaxed—women didn’t have to put on competitive masks.”
This comfort is a central part of GirlTalk LA’s mission. Sarah believes giving women space to be vulnerable shows them they can succeed without holding each other down.
After working in male-dominated industries after college, Sarah started working in the fashion industry. But in this female-dominated space, the discrimination she felt in her previous jobs was still present.
She explains, “Women can be the hardest on themselves but also on each other. It doesn’t end in high school. You can be 60 and experiencing it.” And while spaces to do this work are hard to find, Sarah has seen that “people really want this space, even if they didn’t know they did.”
She describes how once one woman begins to open up, those around her feel they can do the same. “At the event speakers talk about their struggles—a lot of them have dealt with eating disorders or self-image problems—and it got people talking about things they don’t get to announce to the world on a daily basis.”
To women chasing their goals, Sarah says, “You have to just go for it. I was so worried about the first event going perfectly—and it didn’t go perfectly, but it went better than I could have imagined.”
She continues: “Women are so powerful, it’s crazy. We have so many different layers, but when we don’t have support our potential is inhibited. You don’t have to stay where you’re miserable. You can create what you want, and you can ask for more.”
As for the future of GirlTalk LA, Sarah says, “I would love to start doing workshops for teens, because so many of these issues start when we’re very young. My goal is that planting the movement of women supporting women could start there and spread everywhere.”
The next Connect + Inspire event will be held in Santa Monica on October 2. Tickets and more information are available at girltalkla.org.
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