There is no substitute for a culture of integrity in organizations. Compliance alone with the law is not enough. History shows that those who make a practice of skating close to the edge always wind up going over the line. A higher bar of ethics performance is necessary. That bar needs to be set and monitored in the boardroom.  ~J. Richard Finlay writing in The Globe and Mail.

Sound governance is not some abstract ideal or utopian pipe dream. Nor does it occur by accident or through sudden outbreaks of altruism. It happens when leaders lead with integrity, when directors actually direct and when stakeholders demand the highest level of ethics and accountability.  ~ J. Richard Finlay in testimony before the Standing Committee on Banking, Commerce and the Economy, Senate of Canada.

The Finlay Centre for Corporate & Public Governance is the longest continuously cited voice on modern governance standards. Our work over the course of four decades helped to build the new paradigm of ethics and accountability by which many corporations and public institutions are judged today.

The Finlay Centre was founded by J. Richard Finlay, one of the world’s most prescient voices for sound boardroom practices, sanity in CEO pay and the ethical responsibilities of trusted leaders. He coined the term stakeholder capitalism in the 1980s.

We pioneered the attributes of environmental responsibility, social purposefulness and successful governance decades before the arrival of ESG. Today we are trying to rebuild the trust that many dubious ESG practices have shattered. 


We were the first to predict seismic boardroom flashpoints and downfalls and played key roles in regulatory milestones and reforms.

We’re working to advance the agenda of the new boardroom and public institution of today: diversity at the table; ethics that shine through a culture of integrity; the next chapter in stakeholder capitalism; and leadership that stands as an unrelenting champion for all stakeholders.

Our landmark work in creating what we called a culture of integrity and the ethical practices of trusted organizations has been praised, recognized and replicated around the world.


Our rich institutional memory, combined with a record of innovative thinking for tomorrow’s challenges, provide umatached resources to corporate and public sector players.

Trust is the asset that is unseen until it is shattered.  When crisis hits, we know a thing or two about how to rebuild trust— especially in turbulent times.

We’re still one of the world’s most recognized voices on CEO pay and the role of boards as compensation credibility gatekeepers. Somebody has to be.

What does it say when an America that once saved the world is now turning cap-in- hand to a collection of anti-democratic regimes from Dubai to China?

Already, foreign funds, mainly controlled by nations and regimes that hold democracy suspect, to say the least, have pumped nearly $20 billion into Citigroup and Merrill Lynch as a result of the credit debacle that has them floating in a self-created sea of write-downs and losses. Billions more are being funneled into Morgan Stanley and Bear Stearns from the same offshore sources. So it is that American capitalism has lost its primacy to such an extent that it must now turn to lands far away for its salvation. The distance is more than geographical. It is deeply ideological.

Throughout the 20th century, much of the world was accustomed to seeing an America that frequently came to the rescue of the global economy. The showcase of this effort was the Marshall Plan, which saw Europe and Japan rebuilt in the aftermath of the Second World War. Americans themselves supported this role because they understood that great power carried with it great responsibility. For many, it represented an affirmation that democracy and economic success went hand in hand, and that freedom was the virtue that most embodied America and permitted it to thrive, innovate and serve as an example of leadership to the world.

But what does it say when an America that once saved the world is now turning cap-in-hand to a collection of anti-democratic regimes from Dubai to China? And what does it say about the leaders on Wall Street and in Washington that permitted such a slide to occur? To a very real extent, the failures that have roiled the stock markets and are hurtling the economy toward recession are also failures in corporate governance and in the vigilance of the guardians and watchdogs that were supposed to be protecting against the unwise exercise of risk in the post-Enron era. Wasn’t the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 –the same legislation many in business and in the Bush administration, including Treasury secretary Henry Paulson, have been attempting to ease– created to instill a culture on the part of boards of directors specifically to protect against this kind of sudden blindsiding of disaster? In this sad spectacle, the sentries were clearly asleep, while the fee-greedy bankers and lenders ran amok. And, as in the Enron-era scandals, several of the CEOs who also chaired the boards while presiding over these calamities have made off with a bundle.

The subprime debacle is about more than multi-billion dollar losses and a shift on balance sheets of stock ownership. It is about a sea change in values and realities that does not bode well for America, for capitalism or for democracy and the implications of which are yet to be fully appreciated and debated. It is also about the decline –some might suggest betrayal– in the stewardship of the American economy that was once a beacon to the world. At the very least, it is a worthy subject of discussion in boardrooms, among presidential candidates and among the people of America who will be most affected.

America does not look good when it is engaged in a Marshall Plan  – – in reverse.