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 old fashioned idea that the market will reward companies built upon real value seems to have eluded many of Canada’s top business leaders.

Reaction to the Canadian government’s decision to pull the plug on the income trust party is coming on strong. It is also entirely predictable. Much of it is of the “sky is falling” nature where CEOs talk about irreparable damage resulting from the announcement. The same kind of response greeted the move to create a personal and then corporate income tax regime in the early 1900s. You could hear the voices of boardroom doom when the first minimum wage was established and, before that, when child labor laws were enacted.

Income trusts took off because they were based on a very large tax loophole. I have never held any income trust units because it has been obvious to me for some time that this party could not, and likely should not, last very long. A previous government under Paul Martin (was there really one?) made a botched effort to close the loophole. Even a basic knowledge of civics would teach that governments (especially when driven substantially by bureaucracies) are seldom able to look the other way when fresh sums are within their grasp (or about to leave it) and it ought to have been apparent to even an untrained eye that change was not far off. What’s amazing is that so many huge companies, who pay millions to lobbyists and political advisors, did not seem to grasp the obvious fact that their actions in pursuing a conversion to income trust status would likely prompt the rethinking of government policy. Having said that, I must confess my boardroom experience with many corporate advisors, especially in the fields of law, public relations and government affairs, has often left me bewildered by their frequent state of insularity.

Suddenly many companies are crying that they have lost an important edge –especially important, I would imagine, to many already richly compensated CEOs who stood to gain tens of millions from the conversions alone. The old fashioned, time worn, idea that the market will reward companies that are built upon genuine value, that reinvest for the future and are managed and governed with a competitive edge seems to have eluded some of Canada’s business leaders. Along with a real world lesson in how governments operate, these CEOs would benefit from a crash course in market economics.