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.

Terrorist threat ratings for law abiding travelers that can’t be challenged are reminiscent of totalitarian tactics which the United States so long fought.

Neville Hobson, a respected blogger and innovator in the changing field of social media raises some important points on the terrorist rating system to which travelers to the US are being subjected. “Can’t be rescinded, not even questioned,” as the line goes from the movie Casablanca, seems an apt description. There is no provision for amending an inaccurate terrorist rating. You can’t even see it. In a world war against fascism and a very long cold war against communism, America fought the encroachment of a big brother who kept track of everyone and accorded civil rights to no one. What has happened to this once gleaming pillar of civil rights so long an inspiration to freedom loving people? What has become of the spirit of Jefferson, Lincoln, Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King?

I have been following Mr. Hobson’s reports faithfully for several years. They are a model of British restraint and proportionality. They also have a significant following around the globe. He is clearly not alone in questioning the principles and management behind such a program. The troubling fact is that the misdirected thinking and policy miscues that brought America to its current calamitous course in Iraq also seem to be manifesting themselves at home in the government’s dealings with its own citizens and those of its allies.

I have written at Finlay On Governance recently here and here about the direction of the United States, a country where I have lived, more than occasionally work and have many family members. I believe America is only now awakening to how misguided its course in the world has become. It is apparent that the assault launched by the U.S. government on the privacy and civil liberties of its own citizens, as well as those of its supporters and allies like Mr. Hobson, is far greater than any outside enemy could ever inflict.

No right thinking member of the civilized world wishes to see America, or any other country for that matter, vulnerable to attack at the hands of terrorists. But the war on terror must not be permitted to become a war on the privacy of law abiding people, otherwise the terrorists have won a victory of a kind they never could have dreamed.

Perhaps the current soul-searching in America about its ever more costly missteps involving the Middle East, and the change of political landscape that occurred in November, will begin to prompt a larger rethinking about the need to preserve those values of liberty and civil rights for which America has been a beacon to the world, but the light of which has sadly grown more dim in recent years.