Masawa Minute 12
Black Lives Matter | Impact investors support system change | + More!
This is the Masawa Minute, a snippet of what we’re consuming in the areas of mental wellness, social impact, and impact investing.
The invisible thread connecting all the bits of this newsletter is the importance of community. If all the lessons from the first half of 2020 had to be summed up, the takeaway would be that a more connected, equitable, and inclusive society would make the world a much better place for everyone. Let’s keep that in mind moving forward!
🗽 More diversity in the (startup) world, please
Diversity and inclusion of experience have long been known to lead to better and more successful organizations. However, a thorough analysis of the relationship between the team’s ethnic diversity and performance has never been conducted (partly because only 3% of Fortune 500 companiesshare their diversity data with the public).
Until now, that is.
Kauffman Fellows and MaC Venture Capital conducted a study revealing that Latinx (6.7x) and Black (5.6x) communities severely lack representation among startup executives in the U.S. when compared to the working-age population.
They also discovered that diverse founding teams raised 60% more venture funding than all-White teams in late-stage (Series E) private rounds. Historically, diverse teams also have generated a 3.26x median realized multiple on IPOs and acquisitions, compared to that of 2.50x earned by non-diverse teams.
Clearly, it’s time for the current state of the industry to count its last days. Besides the obvious moral argument in favor of diversifying teams, now there’s financial data to support it. No more excuses! [Thanks, Joshua!]
🎉 Small talk is so yesterday — connect in a meaningful way instead
You just met someone at an event. “It’s so cloudy today”, — you say, while frantically looking around the room for something, anything to mention next. — “Let’s hope it doesn’t rain, I seem to always forget my umbrella.”
Does this sound familiar? Probably.
Even if you’re a master of small talk, for many people, it’s definitely not the favorite part of the conversation. Luckily, technology has stepped in to rescue us from it altogether.
Skip the Small Talk is a new social impact startup founded as a solution to the loneliness faced by Millennials and Gen Z, the two generations most concerned with their mental health yet with the highest levels of loneliness. Skip the Small Talk offers workshops and other events customized for the audience, intended to help them bond through vulnerability while staying away from small talk.
In this interview, the founder Ashley Kirsner talks about how technology can contribute to solving the problem of loneliness and help us connect in meaningful ways (also shares more details about her cool events).
We’ll be on the hunt for tickets!
💫 Are you only as mentally fit as your community?
In the western world, mental illness is usually seen as an individual issue. A person is diagnosed individually, based on their genetics, thoughts, emotions, and treated the same way.
Ancient Chinese scholars and many other cultures believed that emotions exist among people rather than inside them. Their teachings suggested that mental illness can be avoided by learning to restrain the mind, which is why certain emotional expressions in some cultures would be punished with enormous shame. Others, like the early Confucians, advised picking your community carefully as it could either destroy or build your character.
They weren’t wrong — ditching toxic environment can do wonders for your wellbeing.
While we shouldn’t revert to treating mental illness as a failure to control the mind, taking our surroundings into account can offer a lot of insight on what effects do social norms, cultural beliefs and communal attitudes have on our mental state. [Thanks, Niels!]
📣 Knock knock, change is here!
It’s time to stand and take action for structural change resulting in a fair, just, and accountable society where the system doesn’t favor one racial group and diversity is not treated as a checkbox.
Impact investors are done staying silent.
Impact Alpha has compiled a list of statements by various investors acknowledging the problem and pledging to fight the long-overdue structural overhaul. Read to draw some inspiration on how your organization can contribute. There is a lot of work to be done, but the change will be worth it.
🚶 Sociology as a tool to fight mental illness?
Did you know that after WWII, social psychiatry or communal mental health, the focus on the relation between the individual and the society, was very prevalent?
Sociologists looked at a number of factors influencing mental health, namely poverty, inequality, social exclusion and uncovered links between different disorders and geographic parts of the city. For example, schizophrenia was associated with an impoverished, mostly homeless area in Chicago known as “Hobohemia.”
Towards the end of the 20th century, social psychiatry gave way to what we now consider as psychiatry, centered around psychoanalysis and drug prescriptions. However, turning back the clock might be beneficial, if not essential, as social psychiatry focused on building a system that values prevention over treatment.
This kind of system could drastically reduce the cases of mental illness, giving many people a chance to live life. That’s the health system we’d like to see!
✨ Masawa Update
These past two weeks have been a difficult, yet necessary, time for our world. Racial injustice in the United States has festered in the underbelly of society for hundreds of years, cementing itself into systems of discrimination that pervade every facet of life. This non-overt entrenched system of power greed and power abuse that exists in every country (in some form), is a major instigator to mental illness.
As a young organization establishing the norms and habits that will drive the culture for the next decades, we’re actively working on embracing our vulnerabilities and being conscious of our biases. Yes, we consider our team to be “diverse”: we’re 75% female, speak 15 languages, were born in 8 different countries, and grew up at points all along the socio-economic spectrum, but our diversity of experiences doesn’t mean we get to be complacent.
And yes, it’s okay that we’re human, and we have had a certain conditioning, but recognizing this conditioning is so crucial in our work to make mental wellness matter, so that billions live life.
💭 In Closing
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Gabija works as a Marketing & Communications Coordinator at Masawa. She lets her vision of a more just, sustainable, equitable world guide Masawa’s story and inform the work towards transforming global mental wellness to make it accessible and accepted.