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A purpose-led, coffee-fuelled world

As I sip my coffee (Ethiopian, freshly-ground in my kitchen and blasted, not brewed, in a stove-top espresso pot) and read the news (and wonder if civilisation as we know it is finally going to collapse) a couple of things fire me up and cool me down.

In my current FPE (favourite podcast ever), Michael Pollan talks to Phil Rogan about the wonderful drug that is the basis of much of our ‘civilisation’, from the Industrial Revolution to coffee breaks: LISTEN HERE

Long may it be true that companies provide this drug to employees and give them a break to administer it.

Add to that the pleasure of being part of something that assists deaf people and you have … um … civilisation, I guess.

This week I learnt how to order a cappuccino in sign language from the barista at the 10X Investments office. The new service is being introduced as the asset manager grapples with every aspect of their approach to ESG, from their policy on proxy voting to the hot drinks served in the kitchen at their new offices.

I am very impressed that the company that manages my retirement savings cares about ESG issues on such a granular level. I am so looking forward to learning about how 10X uses my vote as an investor (ie applies my power) to effect positive change.

Back to the granular level of things, the office coffee at 10X is provided by the I Love Coffee Group. This group roasts and serves delicious coffee (believe me, I know what I am talking about here) while working to integrate the deaf and hearing communities.

Being served by a deaf barista made us slow down a bit, and open our eyes and hearts a little wider. We learned to order our coffee in sign language, as well as to say please and thank you. I can order a cappuccino with almond milk in sign language, not that I even want almond milk. Ordering a ‘flat white’ had us all giggling with its references to red necks.

LEARN TO SIGN | I Love Coffee Group  

As part of the Cape Town office move, 10X has ensured that wherever possible they are supporting local companies and tradesmen, as well as choosing green options. The main suppliers are Cape Town-based, purpose-led companies, including:

Caroline Naylor-Renn, 10X’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “We have attempted to re-use as much of our existing fixtures and fittings as possible. The reception desk is being turned into the barista station, the pedestal drawer units are being turned into lockers, the board room table is being given a facelift, and almost all of the desks, occasional chairs and tables are coming with us. Even some of the light fittings will be reused.”

If you are wondering how an index tracking investment house can be an activist in the ESG space, here are some thoughts from Chris Rule, Head of Products and Client Solutions at CoreShares (now CoreShares by 10X):

“What is often cause for confusion is that there is no link between being an active shareholder and an active or passive investor. Importantly, both passive and active investors can be active shareholders.

“Ironically, passive investors are often unable to divest of a specific company from a portfolio, meaning they are further incentivised to take on the role of the active shareholder to influence positive change.

“This incentive to take action has played out across the globe, with large passive investment houses such as BlackRock taking the lead on active shareholder endeavours.”

And something totally unrelated that made me smile …

The project took her and a friend more than eight months of solid work and tinkering. “You do have to be a little bit mad,” she said.

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