Whether you’re a business or an individual striving for greater effectiveness in one’s life, the ultimate goal is to help, not hurt. However, the legacy of social injustice and generational trauma looms large over the aspirations of all developed societies. How does one break these cycles, and what sort of system should be erected in its place? These are the topics discussed in the first of Medicine Box’s Cultural Shift series, and while the bigger questions went unsolved for now, businesses have much to gain from honestly engaging with these difficult topics now, and Iarrusso passionately laid out the reasons why.
Iarrusso began by giving a brief autobiography of herself growing up as a white-presenting Latinx WOC in New York City, and how she became aware of racial inequities within the differing life trajectories of her Italian and Puerto Rican relatives. Later, upon working in Guatemala and Peru with indigenous populations, she recognized the resilience and the resourcefulness of many of the people she attempted to help. The only thing holding them back, she recognized, was a system built to keep them down. Still, through them, Iarrusso learned the true meaning of entrepreneurialism: “It’s just being an innovator, solving a social problem, solving an issue or a need or a gap in the community with just being creative, resourceful, resilient, and finding a solution that people need and then turning that into a business.”
Experiences such as these led to Iarrusso’s “No BS” strategy, where businesses and their teams are directly confronted with their shortcomings on race, gender and equity. Brian discusses the hard lessons he and his team have learned going through these assessments. Yet no matter how difficult, Iarrusso emphatically insists that businesses that do the work end up reaping the benefits for both themselves and the communities they serve. Yet they need to reach out to specialized professionals for support in this. “You cannot DIY to DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion),” she declares. “When you do invest in the DEI and anti racism, training and unpacking privilege and whiteness and fragility, it is going to make you a better company, better leaders, better salespeople, better at customer service, better at market research, better at product design, better at systems, better at culture, better at everything.”
Iarrusso also stressed the importance of self-care and spirituality in this work, arguing that the “move fast and break things” approach has a toxic effect on people within and without the company and the primacy of recentering oneself. After speaking on the differences between conscious versus compassionate capitalism and giving good tips on bridge-building initiatives between wellness brands and marginalized communities, Brian closed the conversation with a meditation and an invitation to the next installment in the Shift Series, CAREER SHIFT, with Your Career Concierge Marissa Nordstrom, and a fellow client of Iarrusso’s.
Learn more about Iarrusso’s services at Embrace Change.