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.

Note to Wall Street: Nix the Schadenfreude

There is an unseemly amount of gloating on Wall Street in the wake of the stunning disclosure yesterday that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was a client of a major prostitution ring. Disgust is called for. Delight is not.

What he did as Attorney General to clean up abuses and improprieties in the mutual fund and investment industries, to name just two areas, was long overdue and entirely justified. The ordinary shareholder, who tends to view Wall Street as a playing field that is too often tilted toward the big teams, is better off as a result. Can anyone, with the possible exception of its former CEO Dick Grasso and one-time board member Ken Langone, seriously suggest that the governance of the New York Stock Exchange was not improved by the reforms in which Eliot Spitzer played a leading role?

Clearly, there is a temptation to rewrite history. Whatever Governor Spitzer has done in his personal life should not be taken as a vindication by companies and individuals of the wrongdoing and shortcomings he exposed as Attorney General. One wonders if Wall Street senses in this scandal the feeling that some of the ethical pressure will dissipate and allow it to get back to business as usual.

Spitzer’s actions, on a personal basis, were shameful and almost too bizarre to believe. But we have seen before how bright lawyers from Harvard and Yale have done inexplicably stupid things. Many it seems begin to believe their own press clippings and the flashy magazine profiles about their apparently superhuman qualities. President Bill Clinton’s reckless affair with a White House intern, and his lying about it to the world, ranks high in that category. And a British lord, also considered brilliant by all accounts and trained in the law as well, is currently sitting in a U.S. prison in Florida because he thought he was above the law.

The governor’s resignation is but days, if not hours, away. The sooner the better. The title governor and the description “client – 9” are incompatible, to put it mildly. And he may well face criminal charges. But Wall Street faces a crisis itself. And questions are being raised about the multi-billion dollar judgments of some of its top players. Now is not the time to rejoice in the personal failing of someone who at least had the courage to make sure the rules were being followed at a time when Wall Street itself was not exactly behaving as a paragon of virtue.