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.

One of the dangers of excessive pay is that it tempts CEOs to think that maybe they really are god-like superheroes.  But few have actually boasted about the role like Goldman Sachs’ s Lloyd Blankfein.


It has been a consistent view of these pages, and one much longer voiced by its author over some two decades, that executive compensation poses a number of systemic risks to companies, to the institution of capitalism and to society generally.  One of those risks, the effects of which is being experienced in the economic slowdown today, is that stratospheric compensation tends to distort how CEOs view the world and tempts them to venture into unwise and perilous territory (see, for instance, 40-to-1 debt leverage; unbooked credit default swaps and subprime mortgages).  Some are inclined to believe that they truly are the god-like superheroes they would have to be in order to justify pay levels that swell into the high tens of millions on a regular basis.  Now, we have additional proof for our theory.

Earlier this week, the Times of London reported Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, whose compensation in 2007 amounted to more than $70 million, as saying that he was doing “God’s work.”  Goldman has always been filled with heavy-hitters who go on to exercise considerable sway in government (see Henry M. Paulson Jr.).  It seems the influence has taken on a decidedly out-of-the-beltway, even out-of-this earth, tone.

It is difficult enough for Goldman to justify the compensation it regularly doles out.  To add to that PR nightmare by taking on the role of an emissary from God may prove to be more than even this fabled company can pull off.  Such talk only serves to divide Wall Street from Main Street further at the very time when public confidence in America’s financial institutions, and respect for its captains, still remains fragile.

Paying millions to a CEO like Mr. Blankfein, or any number of his contemporaries, can get you, well, a very highly paid CEO.  But can it get you a leader who personifies both common sense and good judgment and is able to avoid making stupid statements that cause him and his company to be the laughing stock of late-night comedians and op-ed page commentators?  That is the question, rather less for heaven than for earth, where the generous American taxpayer, and not Divine providence, is most responsible for placing Goldman Sachs, and the Wall Street economy it depends upon for its success, back on track.