Hello and welcome to our weekly intelligence briefing for boards, where we help directors keep up to speed on the macro trends affecting businesses across the world, and corporate governance news.

We hope you enjoy it and, as always, you can find the latest stories and resources on

Each day FT Leader writers on the Editorial Board meet to discuss the topics to be considered for Leader columns. Here are the issues that dominated this week:

In one of several leaders on the implications of the war in Ukraine this week, the Editorial Board looked at the outlook for the eurozone economy, as it faces the prospect of "a period of low growth and high inflation". The European Central Bank will need all the dexterity it has shown in recent years to manage a tighter monetary policy while maintaining the flexibility to intervene in a targeted way in bond markets.

One of the many side effects of sustained inflationary pressures across much of the world, and more rapidly tightening monetary policies, is that asset bubbles inflated over recent years could burst. A leader warning of the vulnerability of housing markets is in train.


There was heartening news amid the global gloom with US regulators prompting companies to boost climate risk disclosures. Our leader writers concluded that criticism from reactionary Republicans who deemed the move "onerous, expensive and undemocratic" was itself "short-sighted and overblown". Instead the rules are "good for business [and] the planet".

As the war in Ukraine enters its second month, president Volodymyr Zelensky asked western nations to boost support for Ukraine’s military campaign against Russia ahead of a Nato summit in Brussels today.

There are three options for how the invasion plays out, argues chief foreign affairs commentator Gideon Rachman – a prolonged war, a peace settlement or a coup in Russia. Expect the first, work for the second and hope for the third, he writes.

The conflict highlights the risks faced by foreign businesses in China, notes international business editor Peggy Hollinger. “The lesson of Russia’s invasion is not just that the unthinkable can happen, but that the consequences can play out at a speed and scale few had imagined possible.” 

Indeed, energy looms large in macroeconomics and geopolitics. Russia supplies more than 40 per cent of the EU’s gas and coal imports and a quarter of its crude – the bloc faces an uphill battle to untangle its dependency.

Indeed, on Wednesday German chancellor Olaf Scholz resisted calls to ban Russian fossil fuels.“To do that from one day to the next would mean plunging our country and the whole of Europe into a recession,” he warned.

Bond markets are also suffering: investors are bracing themselves for interest rate rises as central banks are determined to tame inflation. The Bloomberg global aggregate index has fallen by more than 11 per cent since its peak in January 2021 – the heaviest decline in its history.

Meanwhile in the UK, the spring statement yesterday dominated proceedings. Chancellor Rishi Sunak cut fuel duty and raised the national insurance threshold, but stopped short of a windfall tax on energy companies.

“Sunak, people may well feel, has done too little,” argues chief economics commentator Martin Wolf. “His promises to rejig the tax system, to reignite growth, will seem pie in the sky. He should have gone for a windfall tax and distributed more to the worst hit.”

There was little help for companies too, writes business columnist Helen Thomas. “Given the chancellor’s apparent inclination to wait and see on the economic fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, boards considering investment may decide to do the same,” she concludes.

UK inflation data will not make the situation any easier. Figures show that inflation in the UK hit a 30-year high in February. The consumer price index increased at an annual clip of 6.2 per cent last month, up from 5.5 per cent in January.

Into corporate news and P&O Ferries sparked anger last week when it sacked 800 UK-based sailors without notice to replace them with cheaper agency staff.This week the company said it offered as much as £170,000 to those affected, but also warned of more redundancies.

Aside from questions about the legality of P&O’s actions, what should concern ministers is that P&O appears not to have worried about political blowback” of ignoring basic employment rights, argues UK business writer Cat Rutter Pooley.

Elsewhere there’s been plenty of churn on boards.

FTSE100 Russian gold miner Polymetal International appointed Riccardo Orcel as chair. The move comes after a number of directors abruptly left following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

THG also landed a boardroom heavyweight as former ITV chief executive Charles Allen will become its new independent non-executive chair. He has a mandate to “refresh” the board and “further strengthen governance”, the ecommerce company said.

But THG needs something more substantial than a governance overhaul to turn round its relationship with investors”, argues Rutter Pooley – as the lukewarm share price reaction to the announcement shows.

And while Orcel and Allen step in, Severin Schwan, vice-chair of Credit Suisse, is out – along with two other directors of the Swiss bank. Christian Gellerstad, who is already a director, will replace him as vice-chair.

The long-standing turmoil between Toshiba and its investors has continued too. At an extraordinary general meeting today, shareholders voted down management’s plan to split the conglomerate in two.

Finally, how does a four-day working week sound? The approach could benefit employers , writes employment columnist Sarah O’Connor, as experiments have shown that hours can be reduced without a drop in output.

“The magnitude of Russian cyber capacity is fairly consequential, and it’s coming.”

That was US President Joe Biden’s message to members of the Business Roundtable, a large corporate lobbying group, on Monday. He told executives it was a “patriotic obligation” to invest as much as possible in digital security.

If this has got you thinking about cyber defences, the National Cyber Security Centre has some useful information on actions to take during periods of increased threats.
SEC moves towards requiring corporate climate disclosures (News from the FT)
Introducing the board scorecard (Resource from Chapter Zero)
Investors expect climate action in 2022 (Insights from Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance)
Future Consumer Index: People are reconnecting with their deeper values (Insights from EY)
What is your business ecosystem strategy? (Insights from the BCG Henderson Institute)
Stilpon Nestor, chairman of Nestor Advisors: The outsider (Podcast from Boardroom Governance with Evan Epstein)

Climate resolutions raise temperatures in the boardroom

Boards should expect support for ESG resolutions to continue this year – but with heightened expectations from investors. The focus will be on detail, transparency, measurable targets and accountability.

This article is brought to you by FT Specialist’s
a publication that focuses on corporate boards.


While progress has been made on improving the gender diversity of boards, women remain largely under-represented in senior leadership positions. Why is it so difficult to create diverse senior teams, even in companies which are genuinely committed to this aim? 

At our event, How companies can fix the gender imbalance in leadership positions, earlier this week, we provided an in-depth discussion on what effective measures companies can take to improve gender balance and the challenges associated with this. 

Missed the event? Watch the replay here.

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