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.

Anyone might give a helping hand to struggling musicians, hungry journalists or stranded students. But bankers? If there is more compelling evidence of a selfless heart on the part of Conrad Black, it’s hard to imagine what it would be.

Conrad Black’s defence team has filed statements and letters from family and supporters as part of its pre-sentencing submissions to U.S. federal court judge Amy St. Eve. There are the usual flattering accolades that are to be expected about how the sick were helped and the broken mended. Some of the claims are no doubt true. But it is also true that the rich and powerful often see the conduct of one of their own through a lens that magnifies the positive and clouds the disagreeable.You may recall that similar glowing character references were made about one-time hockey impresario Alan Eagleson, another holder of the famed Order of Canada who was stripped of the honor prior to his incarceration. He was charged with and eventually pled guilty in 1998 to mail fraud in the United States and fraud and embezzlement in Canada. The effusive testimonials, which, like Mr. Black’s, included a supportive letter from a former Canadian prime minister, did not stave off a loss of freedom.Many of the statements made on behalf of Mr. Black seem at odds with the public persona his own words have created. Still, little in life is entirely black or white. No doubt there are many admirable sides to Mr. Black in his roles as a father, husband, friend and parishioner, as my about-to-turn 86-year-old mother dutifully reminds me whenever the subject of Mr. Black’s travails comes up at family occasions. While Mr. Black’s lawyers have gone to predictable lengths to portray a kinder and gentler man, one item that may well prove evidence of an almost super human level of generosity was contained in the last word of a sentence on page 31 of the defence’s filing.

He supported musicians, artists, aspiring journalists, students and bankers.

Anyone might give a helping hand to struggling musicians, hungry journalists or stranded students. But bankers? Surely it was a typo that was meant to say bakers. The doughnut business has begun to sag as trans fats have become passé and the numbers at Krispy Kreme have turned unappetizing to investors. But it is hard to imagine that anything short of a Mother Teresa-like spirit of altruism could make a man warm to bankers, who, popular opinion decrees, rarely give a second thought about calling in a loan or foreclosing on a widow’s home. If there is more compelling evidence of a selfless heart on the part of Conrad Black, it’s hard to imagine what it would be. True, one has to stretch one’s mind to fathom why bankers would need to seek out Mr. Black’s assistance in the first place. But then there are those who leave their jobs a little early, as Charles O. Prince did a few weeks ago on the heels of the multi-billion dollar subprime mortgage losses at Citigroup. There is always room to top a $60 million dollar style severance package.Perhaps those qualities of patience, tolerance and charity that Mr. Black has shrouded so well in his public statements regarding Hollinger shareholders (“…we think they are a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites and ingrates…”), or servants (“A notoriously unreliable group, as any experienced employer of such people knows.”), or journalists (“The ‘profession’ is heavily cluttered with abrasive youngsters who substitute ‘commitment’ for insight, and to a lesser extent, with aged hacks toiling through a miasma of mounting decrepitude. Alcoholism is endemic in both groups.”) have belied the real person. Among his uncommon gifts we can now count a willingness to see the human side of needy bankers.I shutter at what my mother will think when she hears about this. She has been willing to give a maternal benefit of the doubt to Conrad Black, remembering fondly her days of driving along The Bridle Path by his family home. She is not as forgiving in her views about bankers.