Chase the Bag: Negotiating as a Minority

Micheline Amisi
January 17, 2021

I am a huge Roddy Ricch fan, and that man never neglects to advise us to chase the bag. I completely believe that this has always looked different for minorities especially in the taboo space of salaries. I also believe that it is our duty (always) to lift as we climb. Finally, I believe that negotiation, though it may seem like a daunting concept, is a skill that can be learned and help drive us towards salary equality for minorities ( e s p e c i a l l y women).

I am a first-generation Congolese graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill (go heels!). My path to being fully comfortable with negotiation started long before “adulting.” I was the kid that would write my parents letters asking for a later curfew or an allowance. Though most of these requests were met with a hard no, I persisted — usually because I knew that I deserved these things. I think this was the fundamental lesson that shaped my negotiation style: when you believe you have earned something, you have to ask for it, and you have to do so boldly.

I recently started a new job and had to put my negotiation skills to a test. Here are the things that helped me, and my hope is that they will be helpful to you as you navigate the workspace:

1. I did my research.

You know the saying — when you know better, you do better and truer words have never been spoken. I checked LinkedIn, called friends in the industry, Glassdoor, all of THAT. My main objective here was to collect as much information as possible so that I could show up to the table informed. We can argue feelings, but we won’t argue facts :)

2. I prepared for counter-arguments.

While knowing the facts was a great first step, the facts alone didn’t bring me victory. I took time to practice. I had one of my line sisters play negotiation with me. We went through several rounds of questions that we predicted would come up in the discussion. This proved SO beneficial, because when the time came, I had an answer for every single question.

3. I added tax.

Here’s another popular saying: ”know your value, and add tax.” I took this motivational quote and ran with it. I knew that the hiring manager would not respond with “Oh, that’s what you want? Wonderful, let’s give it to you.” Because I anticipated getting “let’s meet in the middle” energy, the tax that I added was all that was taken away, and I still walked away with the salary that I desired. Simply put, ask for more than you want.

4. I was confident.

Growing up, my parents always stressed that in order to be successful, I needed to be kind, gentle, and confident. Surely, sometimes I was annoyed with these speeches, but wow, were they right. I had to go into the discussions with confidence that I was asking for what I rightfully deserved. I know that this can be difficult, but it will make all the difference. I believed it in my heart and in my mind, and it translated into firm and complete articulation of what I wanted.

Ultimately, I walked away with 45% more money than what was originally offered. I think Roddy would agree that I was in my bag. I know there are so many forces fighting against minorities in these work spaces that have not always been welcoming of us. Oftentimes we are told not to ask for too much, not to be too loud, or not to be too demanding. Let me say this, you are never, ever (ever) asking for too much when you are asking for what you believe you deserve. With that, go forth and chase the bag! *cues Roddy Ricch*

Micheline Amisi
Micheline Amisi is a tactful, ambitious, and focused young professional with a natural talent for driving positive change and development in organizational settings

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