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.

hang-seng-cp-2592060.jpgChinese stocks are taking quite a tumble today. There appears to be no official or definitive explanation as to why. Getting to why in China is never easy, especially when it comes to business. Rampant corruption and lack of transparency make truth and accuracy elusive commodities in that country. The poor corporate governance practices that have been ignored by many analysts and accepted by most investors in return for soaring numbers will not assist in stabilizing flagging market confidence as the gains shift in reverse. Many investors will now begin to ask how much they really know about China and its companies. Others will conclude that the lure of short-term gains is not worth the risk of dealing in a financial market that undervalues western practices of truthfulness, transparency and disclosure. A regime that places little value on human rights, after all, is unlikely to care too much about investor rights.

I have for some time suspected that these conditions, along with widespread corruption in China, were creating a serious distortion in that country’s true financial picture and that recent stock gains may well be, in part at least, the result of heavily jiggered figures. Any hint of a government crackdown or effort to bring genuine transparency to the market might well reveal China’s own Enron equivalents, and on a much larger scale. Most of China’s corporate economy and publicly traded companies are owned and controlled by the state. Many investors appear to have forgotten that this is a communist regime where accountability and openness are observed as the exception rather than the rule. Proper disclosure, meaningful certification of financial results and insider trading laws don’t exist in the Chinese markets for all practical purposes. Their absence may not be forgiven very long by western investors if a major slide is in the works and there is a contagion influence upon North American and European markets.

China is not a country whose capital markets infrastructure, regulatory apparatus, securities law enforcement or corporate governance practices were ever prepared for the huge run up in valuations that has taken place in the past 20 months or so. It certainly won’t be eqipped to deal with that other —and often forgotten by investors— part of Newton’s first law of physics.