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.

Thank goodness Goldman Sachs paid its co-presidents $106 million between them for their first year on the job. It works out to $53 million each. If only everything in life could be as fair as the directors who made this even-handed award.

I say thank goodness because it is close to a sub-atomic physical certainty that if they had paid these fellows, say, $43 million each, they would have made a sad clown face. At $33 million, they would have thrown a hissy fit. And at a mere $22 million, they both would have sunk into a deep depression and probably spent the next several months in their pajamas all day long.

The sums being awarded on Wall Street are like candy being handed out by children in a candy store. They have no connection to reality and do not know when to stop. You can see the same culture at work in the huge amounts (and fees) going into private equity deals where there seems to be no restraint either. You can hear it in the constant talk, driven by fund managers and investment bankers, about how the world is awash in money with no limits as to the size or number of deals. Most people have no problem with compensating CEOs and top management well. And Goldman Sachs has performed in a stellar fashion. In a market such as this, it would take some concerted effort to not do extremely well. It is a question of proportion and sound judgment that is at issue.

We have discussed previously Goldman Sachs’s bonuses here.

Some of us have seen this picture before. It is the kind of misguided thinking that leads certain people to believe that the laws of economics and physics have been suspended. It generally occurs just before a major economic downturn and a sudden plunge back into reality. Little children know about it. They understand that when the cartoon character goes off the ledge and seems to be hanging in mid-air, he will surely fall to earth with a thud as soon as he looks down. It’s just one of the immutable laws you learn as you grow up.

If kids and cartoon characters understand about reality, why don’t CEOs and compensation committees?