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.

Edward R. Murrow at One Hundred: Still Journalism’s Gold Standard

This week marks the 100th anniversary of Edward R. Murrow’s birth. For the generation of my grandparents and parents, his voice was synonymous with integrity in reporting the events that shaped their lives. Few could match his gift for words or their authenticity in describing the seminal events of his era -a war-time Europe in flames; the horror of Germany’s concentration camps; and, later, the terror unleashed by a particularly odious junior senator from Wisconsin.

He practiced the craft of speaking truth to power, which, at its best, is what journalism is about. It is such an important calling in a world where the ability to hold the powerful to account is the lifeblood of freedom and democracy. In sentence after sentence and in program after program, from his days in war-torn London to his legendary “See it Now” series, this icon of American broadcast journalism reminded people how imperative it was that they knew what was happening around them in their world. People invariably felt better-informed and reassured after listing to Mr. Murrow. He did not talk down to his audience, nor did he find the need to engage in the kind of babbling banter that passes for insightful commentary in many newsrooms today. It was the respect he showed for the obligations of the journalist and for the power and responsibility of words themselves that allowed him to gain the trust of the public. How rare those qualities seem today.

Had he lived in this time, I suspect Edward R. Murrow would likely have been a rather iconoclastic figure. He would not be among those of his profession today who appear to sleepwalk while power is moved more and more into the hands of governments and special interests. He would not have remained silent as the voice of the ordinary individual is increasingly drowned out by the lobby of the super rich and those seeking their favor, nor would he have been a passive witness to what I have called the era of the vanishing stakeholder.

Surely, he would have been troubled by a society which is rich in news information but rarely in context or balance, where ratings are the ultimate determinants of what the media portray as the truth, and where the world seems inexorably heading to a point where most people will seek to be informed by that most authoritative of all news sources: YouTube.

Would Mr. Murrow have found today’s culture of mainstream journalism inviting? Or would he have turned to the blogosphere as the only place were a truly independent voice can be raised and heeded? And what would he think about the level of journalistic standards that sees major newspapers still offering Conrad M. Black, currently serving a 78-month sentence for fraud and obstruction of justice, a platform for his opinion on American politics and foreign policy direct from that bastion of academic integrity known as the Coleman federal correctional complex in Florida?

I believe we have a sense of where he would have been on the war in Iraq and the climate that preceded it, where it was considered un-American to question the merits and costs of the war, the evidence offered for its prosecution, or the motives of those who so strongly advocated it.

Here is a quote from a 1953 broadcast that seems especially appropriate today. It is vintage Murrow, and we give the last word, as it should be, to the man himself.

“If we confuse dissent with disloyalty – if we deny the right of the individual to be wrong, unpopular, eccentric or unorthodox – if we deny the essence of racial equality, then hundreds of millions in Asia and Africa who are shopping about for a new allegiance will conclude that we are concerned to defend a myth and our present privileged status. Every act that denies or limits the freedom of the individual in this country costs us the. . . confidence of men and women who aspire to that freedom and independence of which we speak and for which our ancestors fought.”