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.

What the regulars at this fabled Swiss resort did not appear to grasp is that the breezier than usual air this year was the cold wind of change brought on by the bitter storm of betrayal and personal devastation that millions around the world have felt as a result of Wall Street’s greed and the failures of those expected to regulate it.

The Davos Style from Another Era

The annual procession of the pantheon of the overrated, otherwise known as the World Economic Forum, concluded this week.It ended with a bulletin:The forum’s members have not quite figured out how to get themselves (and us) out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

But Davos was never about ideas or innovation. And it has never been about vision. This is a group that can’t see ahead even a few months, much less the years they would like to profess.Today, it is about the desperately discredited attempting to flee the apocalypse of their own creation. Fearing, as others have during times of transition when the touchstones of power and privilege were crumbling and a new order was beginning to arise in their place, these CEOs and princes think that if they just stick together they might be able to survive.  Somehow they hope that the trillions that have vanished on their watch, and the trillions more that have had to be injected into their companies to avert Armageddon, will recede from the public consciousness and their previous status of unquestioned deference and unchallenged compensation will resume.  This is what the Davos crowd took from President Barack Obama’s inaugural address (loosely borrowed from Jerome Kern’s song of the same name) that it is in such times that America picks itself up, dusts itself off and starts over again.  A more contemporary songwriter might advise this group that you can’t always get what you want.

Having been escorted to the brink of ruin by the leaders who insisted they had all the answers (and made most of the rules), the public is not soon likely to entrust its fate to multimillionaires whose idea of tragedy is to be left off the A-list party circuit at Davos, and whose notions of governance and oversight are reflected in the fox-guarding-the-hen house board structure of the New York Federal Reserve, where, for instance, Richard Fuld Jr. was a director until the collapse of Lehman Brothers.  What the regulars at this fabled Swiss resort did not appear to grasp is that the breezier than usual air this year was the cold wind of change brought on by the bitter storm of betrayal and personal devastation that millions around the world have felt as a result of Wall Street’s greed and the failures of those expected to regulate it.

Two years ago on these pages -and much longer ago in other media- we talked about how visionless and out of touch this group had become. It is, in many ways, symbolic of the leadership deficit that created the circumstances of greed and over-leveraging, ineffective governance and inept regulation that brought the world to its economic knees.

Since the pampered, pumped-up participants at Davos predictably added few, if any, insights that were new, different or particularly hopeful this year, we thought we would reprint our observations from 2007.

Tell me one major sea-changing event that has been anticipated or predicted at Davos in the past two decades. Show me a crisis that has been averted. Everything takes place in rear-view time… In many respects the image is one of myopic leaders still sitting atop the overreaching and unsustainable and who refuse to recognize the existence of icebergs until the Titanic calamity occurs.

Of all the deficits and shortages in the world today, it is the lack of genuine character in so many leaders and the absence of truly transformative leadership that is the most striking. In this, Davos is an apt mirror. One sees in this annual Alpine pilgrimage to Davos fragments of the grainy black and white movies showing the imperial families of Europe gathering in their toy soldier costumes and opulent surroundings, oblivious to the marshalling clouds of change and discontent that would bring their primacy to an end.

It seemed to catch a glimpse of the wreckage to come.