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

You will also find my pick of this week’s FT stories, helpful resources from around the web, and training opportunities.

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:
 
   
   
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
Last week the G7 advanced economies struck a “historic agreement” on taxing multinationals. As well as setting a minimum corporate tax rate, it was agreed that countries could tax 20 per cent of the profits of the biggest global companies based on where a company makes its sales, provided profit margins exceed 10 per cent.

While this is a promising start, there is a long way to go before the agreement can be implemented, write economics editor Chris Giles and economics correspondent Delphine Strauss.

Indeed, what the agreement means for the City of London is yet to be seen: one official said the UK was among the countries hoping “for an exemption on financial services”.

And now, all eyes turn to Cornwall. As international summits go, the G7 really matters, writes chief foreign affair commentator Gideon Rachman. If successful, the summit could reinvigorate the idea that the West can provide global leadership.

Indeed, US president Joe Biden is using his first overseas trip to persuade a wary Europe to work more closely with Washington on China. The problem is that while the bloc has become more hawkish on China, it has different economic and strategic priorities from the US.

Biden may, though, take heart from Mario Draghi’s recent move. The Italian prime minister quietly signed a decree that symbolically ended China’s courtship of the country.

Ahead of the Cornwall summit, there are crunch talks between the UK and EU to consider. Brexit minister, David Frost, began a series of tetchy exchanges this week when he wrote that the EU needed to revisit the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The comments were received poorly in Europe and British officials then claimed Brussels was trying to “exploit” the imminent arrival of Biden in the UK to put pressure on Frost.

Behind the scenes, officials on both sides are trying to come up with solutions, aware that grace periods on some requirements will expire.

Away from geopolitics, there are signs that relations between Britain’s financial services sector and the UK government, which have been strained for years, are thawing. The Covid-19 crisis has brought the two sides together.

And elsewhere, the Bank of England has started stress testing the climate risks facing banks and insurers. The central bank had wanted companies to scrutinise 80 per cent of their counterparties but this was scaled back.

Interestingly, the push for sustainable investing and net-zero pledges is being felt in human resources departments. There is a war for ESG talent, with demand far outstripping supply, experts warn.

And finally, news of two new female chair appointments. The English Football Association has hired its first female chair, Debbie Hewitt, while Rolls-Royce has appointed Anita Frew.
 
 
 
 
 
 
This week Sarah Bell, partner in advisory at Grant Thornton UK LLP, shares her reading list:

The Corporate Director Podcast – Leading with purpose
It has never been more important for companies and their leaders to lead by example. But how can business leaders really “do better”? A focus on diversity and inclusion is vital, but the pandemic has also shown the need for discussion around how to effectively lead an organisation with purpose and empathy.

Understanding DLMA analysis
Diversity of thought among directors is viewed as critical, but what are boards doing to make sure they are getting the most effective output from those around the table? DLMA or “dilemma” analysis is a structured way to analyse the four management disciplines – directorship, leadership, management and assurance. This piece explores how the tool can be used by directors to understand whether they are getting the balance right.

A step towards remote working can be a leap towards diversity and inclusion
The pandemic has resulted in a fundamental shift in how we work and more flexible working seems to be here to stay. But there is not a one-size-fits-all approach; corporate cultures will need to adapt to attract and retain talent. Effective employee engagement will be key, along with a good understanding of the needs of the different demographics within your business.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
On Monday the serviced office group IWG issued a profit warning, saying that “overall improvement in occupancy across the whole group has been lower than previously anticipated as a result of the prolonged impact of Covid-19”.

But the company also said it had received “unprecedented” demand for flexible working spaces. The FT's Lex column is sceptical. The market had counted on providers of flexible space being able to take advantage of a post-pandemic world where employers could cut fixed overheads in favour of variable offices, but excess space may push down prices for some time.

Indeed, Americans have coined a phrase that perfectly captures the dread employees feel about a return to full-time office working, writes business columnist Pilita Clark – “hard pants”.

In a recent survey of executives by consultancy firm McKinsey, the majority of respondents said organisations will adopt hybrid working. Still, the results suggest that agreeing the visions and plans on how to execute the approach is proving more elusive.

And for those considering future ways of working, Deloitte has some insights on how to create a digital workplace that is both supportive and productive.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hacking American beef: the relentless rise of ransomware (Feature by the FT)
Ransomware: prevention and response (Practical insights from Clifford Chance)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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