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 Bankruptcy of General Motors and the Fall of the Business Era that Produced It

366px-genseric_sacking_rome_4551It is not just an American icon that has foundered, but an age that has too long emphasized the wrong values, and sometimes no values at all.

And so the unthinkable has finally happened. The company that was once the marvel of the world, its largest industrial corporation and the first stock listed on the NYSE, has become the biggest industrial bankruptcy in history. Its shares, long the most coveted among blue chip portfolios, have seen their value slide into the pennies and are about to be removed from the fabled Dow 30 index. It is a business equivalent both as dramatic and unthinkable as the sacking of ancient Rome (by the Vandal King Geiseric in 455 AD) or the sinking of the Titanic (1912). Perhaps things will someday turn around for the once mighty automaker. But, for now, General Motors is just another company making its way through the court of losing enterprises. Whatever happens, the symbol GM will never mean the same when measured by industrial size, labor force or customer trust. (more…)

Outrage of the Week: Leadership Abdicated

It was a week that illustrated how not to be a leader.

The CEOs of the big three auto makers appeared before the United States Congress, and showed a level of ill preparedness on even rudimentary questions about their bailout pleas that would have incurred the ire of a fifth grade teacher.  Their separate arrivals in three luxury private jets reminded us of when Robert Nardelli, then head of Home Depot, cut off shareholder questions at the company’s annual meeting after 60 seconds. (more…)

1929 Beckons General Motors

Another uncanny resemblance to an era that seems determined to hold our attention, if not repeat itself in more troubling ways.

More than a year ago, we noted with some trepidation a significant milestone that had been reached in the early 21st century that mirrored events in the 1920s.   The U.S. government had reported that income concentration among the top one percent of earners had reached a point unseen since 1929.  That news gave us a bit of a chill, as we said then.   Another unsettling augury of what seems to be an inexorably unfolding future was seen yesterday when the market capitalization of General Motors Corporation dropped to its 1929 level.  GM stock yesterday fell below $5 for the first time since the 1950s.

Once the largest corporation in the world, GM is more explicit today for its shrinking shadow than it is for its once dazzling self.  It is just one of many previously reliable talismans of stability and confidence that today seem to be crumbling in front of our eyes, calling us back to the indelible memory of economic turmoil whose reality we are at present struggling to avoid.

GM’s stock lost close to one-third of its value yesterday.  Today, the stock is up slightly to $4.98.  The company remains optimistic about its survival. The ghost of Alfred P. Sloan may be less sanguine.


GM: Not Worth Much More than Your Average Billionaire

The stock of General Motors, once the most valued company in the world, slumped to a 53-year low today. The company is worth seven billion dollars in market capitalization. You would have to go down Forbes’s 2008 list of billionaires to its 136th ranking (Harold Simmons) before you would find someone worth less than GM.

Congratulations Mr. Simmons, whoever you are.  GM needs you.