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.

The world has become accustomed to the idea of  an October Surprise.  It has happened in politics, in theaters of war and in the economy (see October 1929).   But rarely has this phenomenon had the courtesy to actually appear on October 1st, on the dot.  That happened on Wall Street today (and on Bay Street in Toronto), where, in the one case, the Dow slipped by more than 200 points, and in the other the TSX plunged by over 300.

It has become common among some strident analysts to declare the recession over and the prospect of a Dow at 12,000, and then at 14,000, easily within reach.  Others, and we include ourselves in this camp, have been more skeptical.  If we really had the worst recession since the Great Depression, the idea of equity markets so quickly sprinting back to the heights they reached during the subprime bubble seems perplexing.  It is a little like someone suffering a massive heart attack and then expecting to win the Boston Marathon 18 months later.  On the other hand, if the recession was overly hyped and not really as bad as most of us had feared, the unprecedented torrent of Fed cash and zero interest rates promises to unleash a terrible inflationary toll down the road.  Neither scenario seems to be giving much confidence to investors or to the consuming public.  And confidence is still the most needed ingredient in any credible plan for economic recovery.

The lesson from today’s surprise is that there is still no end of experts who are happy to be generous with other people’s money – and are determined that neither common sense nor the laws of physics will prevent them from resuming their party and the over-sized compensation that feeds it.  They are the risk-oblivious, reality-blind Pied Pipers of their own self-consuming Gilded Age who led us to the brink of the abyss that was so frightening last October.  Why would we think they suddenly know the way back to stability this October?