Hello and welcome to your Board Director briefing from the Financial Times, where I share all the latest news, trends and debates affecting business and corporate governance more broadly.

You will find my pick of this week’s FT stories, helpful resources from around the web, training opportunities and an invite to our latest event.

I hope you enjoy it. If you have read a story that you think we should include – or a resource that you have found particularly helpful – please do share your ideas by emailing  boarddirector@FT.com.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Each day FT Leader writers on the Editorial Board meet to discuss the topics and issues to be considered for FT Leader columns. In this week’s planning meeting for the week ahead, three issues dominated:
 
   
   
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
All eyes remain on inflation this week. Former US Treasury Secretary and Harvard economist, Lawrence Summers  has rebuked the Federal Reserve for its loose monetary policies and accused it of creating “dangerous complacency” over inflation.

There are reasons to worry, writes chief economics commentator Martin Wolf. Four factors are driving his concern – “wildly expansionary” monetary and fiscal policy, an overhang of private savings, the Fed’s monetary framework and, most importantly, politics.

Nor is the UK insulated from inflation concerns. The Bank of England is on alert and UK inflation more than doubled to 1.5 per cent in April.

On a more positive note, high-frequency data indicators suggest the eurozone is beginning to rebound from a double-dip recession. There was also an easing of trade tensions between the EU and the US as the bloc shelved plans to increase tariffs on a range of products.

But things are less cordial in the UK government. Boris Johnson faces a fierce row in cabinet over a UK-Australia trade deal, while the “Irish sea border” remains problematic. EU minister Lord David Frost, has warned Brussels it needs to “rapidly” rethink post-Brexit Northern Ireland trade rules.

And, as ever for directors, ESG has loomed large this week. While Royal Dutch Shell won shareholder support for its energy transition plan, there is growing support for it to set more ambitious climate change targets.

This came on the same day as the International Energy Agency issued a stark warning to energy groups saying they must stop all new oil and gas exploration projects from this year if global warming is to be kept in check.

And finally, investors have been protesting against big payout for UK bosses. More than a third of shareholders have voted against executive remuneration in at least 15 FTSE 350 businesses this year. As one expert put it, it has been a “been a fairly grumpy [AGM] season”.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This week Dr Roger Barker, director of policy and corporate governance at the Institute of Directors (IoD), shares his reading list:

Post Office scandal: what the Horizon saga is all about
Why does a board make flawed decisions over an extended period of time? Often it is a matter of speculation as boardroom discussions do not take place in public view. In some high-profile cases, however, there is an overriding public interest to shine a light on what went wrong. The Post Office’s pursuit of sub-postmasters more than qualifies for this special treatment. To move forward, we need to learn the lessons from such a persistent governance failure.

We’re all the poorer for shareholders loss of nerve on executive pay
AstraZeneca personifies the fickle nature of corporate reputation. Over the last year, the company has gone from being darling of the FTSE to pariah of the EU. Its chief executive, Pascal Soriot, is both a ‘superstar CEO’ and an exemplar of executive greed. Hubris or nemesis, you decide.

Cameron defends his lobbying of ministers for Greensill Capital
What is a “shadow director”? In the wake of David Cameron’s involvement in the Greensill affair, this obscure legal concept has emerged from IoD training courses onto the parliamentary stage. Cameron’s routine participation in Greensill board meetings might suggest that he was a director in all but name. But on the board or not, Cameron was not alone in failing to realise that the insurance coverage of Tokio Marine (or lack of it) posed an existential risk to the business.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
There is one topic on many directors' minds: ransomware. Just after the Colonial Pipeline reopened, Ireland’s health service was hit by an attack and Toshiba Tec, a subsidiary of the Japanese industrial conglomerate revealed its European operations had fallen prey.

Indeed, ransomware is becoming big business. Last year, the number of attacks rose by 60 per cent to 305m, and the gangs that dominate the market earned at least $18bn in hostage payments.

It is increasingly trying to look like big business too. Hacker group DarkSide is “using tools of corporate capitalism to facilitate attacks on corporate capitalism itself,” writes management editor Andrew Hill.

This ransomware playbook, published by law firm Clifford Chance, includes ideas for how to respond to an attack, alongside guidance on prevention, preparation and regulation.

In a podcast published in February, management consultants McKinsey also explored how boards should ready themselves for increased cybersecurity risks.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
How to best use data to meet DE&I goals (Practical insights from Harvard Business review)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A different perspective on ESG and investor relations (Practical insights from KPMG)
The Board Toolkit (Practical guide to help discussions on the climate emergency from Chapter Zero)
‘Say on Climate’ campaign faces first big test at investor meetings (Feature from the FT)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Board effectiveness and stakeholder governance working group: from intention to action (Discussion paper from the IoD’s Centre for Corporate Governance)
Squaring the Circle: leading companies in a contradictory world (Insights from the BCG Henderson Institute)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Your board needs a people committee (Practical insights from the Harvard Business Review)
Chief executives: fountain of youth versus wisdom of age (Opinion from the FT)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A squandered chance to reform executive pay (Opinion from FT Editorial Board)
Sharing the pain: how did boards adjust CEO pay in response to Covid-19? (Research from Stanford Corporate Governance Research Initiative)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mind the Gap: Cyber security risk in the new normal (Research by the Chartered Institute of Internal auditors)
The principal risk discussion: what’s it for? (Practical insights from Independent Audit)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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