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.

There was one of those syrupy pieces in The New York Times business section the other day that I can read only so long before an overdose of sugar in the blood forces me to look for the antidote. This time, it was about the wonder and magic of Goldman Sachs, which, they say for decades, “has churned out a golden list of corporate executives and statesmen, wealthy financiers and nonprofit managers.” Maybe so. But the idea that these are supermen who glide above the earth and only touch the ground as a courtesy to convention is a bit much.

Robert Rubin was no better a secretary of treasury than a lot of his predecessors who had no financial background at all. And his return to Wall Street so soon after that stint raised a few eyebrows. It’s really not supposed to be that seamless a transition. Governor John Corzine spent more than anyone in history to win a seat in the U.S. senate, which he gave up after one term and a rather lackluster one at that. He then threw record more wads at the New Jersey governorship. He seems best known today as the governor who forgot to wear his seat belt and just narrowly escaped death. To me, he always seemed to be a man who had a problem articulating what this great drive to serve in public life was all about. Current Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is spending a good deal of his time contradicting what he said earlier, like how the subprime mortgage meltdown would not affect the broader economy. All his Goldman experience didn’t help him see that one coming, or the falling icon of market capitalism –the American dollar. It can be painful to listen to him in an unscripted moment, too. Then there is Joshua Bolten, another Goldman alumnus, who currently is chief of staff to an unpopular president now facing a domestic economic downturn to cap off what is probably the greatest foreign policy reversal in American history: Iraq in turmoil, Iran going nuclear, Pakistan teetering on the edge and Russia retreating to Soviet-style belligerence.

Goldman Sachs doesn’t need exaggeration and myth-making. It does well at its job and there are many institutional factors that make that possible. It does not, however, produce genius that is immediately transferable to other forms of economic and political leadership. Quite possibly, we are dealing with human beings after all; smart fellows, to be sure, but they put their pants on one leg at a time, too. It is bad enough when they forget that basic fact. It is a sure road to folly when the public forgets it.