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.

Some high profile CEOs are taking action to support legislation to curb emissions that contribute to global warming. Like President Bush’s recent speech on excessive CEO pay, the subject of recent comment on these pages, it comes as a surprise to many.

In his Wall Street Journal column this week, where he praised the CEOs for taking the lead, Alan Murray asked “Why has the business community suddenly turned green?”. There are several reasons, of course, not the least of which is the hope of getting in on the ground floor to help draft the legislation they know an alarmed public and a Democratic Congress will demand. Some companies, like GE, where CEO Jeffrey Immelt is spearheading the move for new laws, stand to make huge profits from nuclear sales and other measures to stem emissions. But there is a larger issue to consider here before we go around handing out awards to CEOs for doing the obvious (which will probably be taken by some as another excuse for bigger bonuses). My comment responding to Mr. Murray’s piece is available at the Forum section of the Journal or below for those without a subscription.

Would we be wondering why Captain Smith slowed down when he had reports of icebergs nearby? Unfortunately, he did not. The rest is history. It was called the Titanic.

When disaster’s portents surround us, it is wise to act and not stand back and allow the unthinkable to happen. We hire leaders for their vision and ability to avoid calamity, not for their propensity to sound the alarm after catastrophe occurs. In that regard, it is a sad commentary on the quality of business leadership that we have to ask, “Why are they doing it?” when many less illustrious figures saw the dangers some time ago and have attempted to adjust their own conduct, and those of their policy-makers, accordingly.

It is not leadership these CEOs are engaged in by responding to the dire fears of climate change at this point. It is manning the lifeboats.