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.

Is Canada Getting Real with White-Collar Fraudsters?

I was interviewed by The Montreal Gazette yesterday in connection with the 12-year sentence handed down to Vincent Lacroix, the former head of Norbourg Asset Management. He was convicted of swindling more than 9,000 investors out of some $115 million over five years. It is one of the stiffest jail terms of its kind in Canada, which has been receiving a lot of criticism in recent years, including on these pages, for its lackluster approach to fighting boardroom crime.

Here’s some of what the story noted in today’s Gazette:

The head of a think-tank dedicated to raising standards of ethics, transparency and accountability in major corporations and public institutions agreed. A sentence of this size might begin the long process of restoring Canada’s reputation when it comes to fighting white-collar crime,” said J. Richard Finlay of the Centre for Corporate & Public Governance. Long jail time tends to get the attention of potential fraudsters,” he said from headquarters in Toronto. “It also gives some confidence to investors that somebody is looking out for them and making sure that the law means something – even when it reaches into the boardroom.

Maybe all of Canada’s white-collar criminals should be tried in Quebec. They’ve gotten off pretty lightly in the rest of Canada. Indeed, David Wilson, head of the Ontario Securities Commission, has boasted that Canada takes a more compassionate approach to dealing with criminal conduct.

Fortunately, Quebec authorities haven’t received this memo yet.