Robin Wright Demanded a Raise on House of Cards

May 18th 2016

Robin Wright just showed women everywhere how to stand up for themselves at work.

Up until 2014, the "House of Cards" star was earning 80k less than her co-star Kevin Spacey. Considering they both lead the hit Netflix series, she didn't think that was fair, so she employed some very Claire Underwood-like negotiation tactics.

In an interview with Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation, featured by Marie Claire, she explained how she stood up for herself: "I was like, 'I want to be paid the same as Kevin.' It was the perfect paradigm. There are very few films or TV shows where the male, the patriarch, and the matriarch are equal. And they are in "House of Cards.""

"I was looking at the statistics and Claire Underwood's character was more popular than [Frank's] for a period of time. So I capitalized on it. I was like, 'You better pay me or I’m going to go public.' And they did."

We saw a similar situation when Charlize Theron realized she was making less than co-star Chris Hemsworth in "The Huntsman: Winter's War."

But it's not just Hollywood. The gender pay gap is a problem everywhere.

Here's how you can channel your inner Claire Underwood.

1. Don't assume that you can't negotiate.

Women, more than men, seem to accept circumstances as fixed and unchangeable, so they don't even bother to ask. "The first step is for women to assume that most things in their lives are negotiable—that they don't have to accept the status quo as fixed and rigid and settle for whatever they're offered," according to Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, authors of "Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation--and Positive Strategies for Change." And that's a mistake. "This one mental adjustment can produce extraordinary results for women—we've seen it happen time after time."

2. Do some investigating.

Now that you're willing to negotiate, do your homework before you ask, so you can put yourself in a better position.

"[Women should] investigate what other people are getting for doing the same work to get a better idea of whether they should be asking for more," Babcock and Laschever advise. "[Women can] do this by talking to both their male and female peers—people in and outside of their organizations doing similar work at the same level—about their compensation and other benefits. They can also research the 'going rates' for their skills and positions on the Internet, through trade journals, and in salary surveys."

Forbes notes that you can always check websites such as Glassdoor and PayScale for a ballpark figure.

3. Network to build relationships.

Networking isn't something that comes to most people easily, regardless of what the profession is. Let's be honest: most people hate doing it. Unfortunately, it seems like women especially lack networking skills. How and why?

Forbes spoke with a group of career coaches, including Anita Attridge and Eileen Wolkstein, who provided some insight. "Women tend to form relationships that are less up than across or down," Wolkstein said. This means that a woman is more likely to network with employees on her level or below, as opposed to more senior staff members. Attridge recalls one client who had all the qualifications to ask for a raise, but not the relationships. "She had done a sterling job and made great accomplishments but she had no relationships with the people in the company who were going to be making the decision." No one is advising you to become BFFs with your bosses. They're urging you not to think of yourself as too inferior to make your presence known or climb the ladder.

4. Make a list of your accomplishments and own them (avoid the J-word).

Don't be afraid to speak highly of yourself. If you're going to ask for a raise, you need to be comfortable with talking about your worth. "This is frequently a weak area for women," career coach Ellis Chase told Forbes. And don't water down your accomplishments by using weak language. For example, women often use the word "just" more than men do. Women often use it to try to "soften" their position on an issue ("I just think that..."). You may not even realize you're doing it. But when you say "just," what you're really doing is putting yourself down. You don't need "just" as a qualifier.

5. Don't be afraid of silence.

Silence can be a great negotiation tool. It's a classic Claire Underwood move. It makes most people uncomfortable. Use that to your advantage. After you've made your case, give your employer a moment to think about it. Don't try to fill the silence, because you could wind up talking yourself right out of the promotion. Fast Company spoke with Katie Donovan, founder of Equal Pay Negotiations, on the power of silence. Essentially, you have to train yourself to be comfortable with it. "In sales, this is something that people are constantly trained in," Donovan said. "You need to stop selling against yourself. That's what happens when you keep talking. You need to ask a question, then shut up and give the other person a chance to respond."

You got this.

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