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.

New Posting on Harvard Law School Blog

The corporate governance blog of Harvard Law School is running another guest column by me, this time on the Countrywide Financial meltdown. I introduce some issues about the company’s decidedly subprime corporate governance and CEO compensation practices which have not been raised anywhere before, except at Finlay ON Governance, as our consistently astute readers already know. Here is an excerpt:

The lesson of Countrywide is instructive at a time when there is considerable pressure to retreat from Enron-era reforms, with many claiming they are too costly and not necessary. On the contrary, Countrywide shows that improvement is far from universal when it comes to corporate governance and that, once again, excessive CEO pay is still the Typhoid Mary of the boardroom, showing up time and again just before calamity strikes, as it did with Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Adelphia, Nortel, and more. It also shows that a single company’s misjudgments can carry profound consequences for other corporations, public institutions and a wider community of interests, which is why society itself has a considerable stake –separate and apart from that of shareholders– in seeing CEO pay returned to reasonable levels.

Harvard Law School Blog Now Links to Finlay ON Governance

The corporate governance blog of Harvard Law School now includes Finlay ON Governance on its blogroll. The Harvard Law blog reflects some of the best scholarly thinking in the field. It follows in the tradition of the late Professor Myles L. Mace, one of the pioneers in the evolution of modern boardroom practices and the author of the seminal work Directors: Myth and Reality. Thirty-six years after its publication, it remains must reading for any serious boardroom player today.

The Harvard link is a much appreciated honor as Finlay ON Governance enters our second year.

Posting on Harvard Law Blog

I have a guest post on the corporate governance blog of Harvard Law School. This is an interesting site where you can find the thoughts of some of the leading legal scholars in the field. It often prompts some lively (or what passes for same on the part of lawyers) exchanges on corporate governance and CEO pay matters from students, faculty and prominent figures in the legal community.

Here are a couple of excerpts from my post: (more…)