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 an interesting contrast between two prominent American figures who support the war in Iraq over the weekend. On Meet the Press, former House Republican Majority leader Tom DeLay took the position that during times of war, like now, there should be no opposition. And demonstrations of the kind that occurred during the last few days in Washington and elsewhere were “aiding and abetting the enemy.” All Americans have a duty to stand by their “commander-in-chief” he asserted. On Face the Nation, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he believed that everyone involved in the debate about the war is “patriotic” and looking for the best solution. One man is scrambling to come out of a retirement forced by ethical scandal and get back into politics. The other gave up the prestigious post of president of Texas A&M University to serve his country again. One appears to have forgotten that America was forged in dissent and born in opposition to the status quo and entrenched power. The other writes personal letters to the families of fallen military personnel who perform the ultimate act of sacrifice to preserve America’s constitutional freedoms.

Is it not interesting how the styles of leaders say so much about their character and how philosophies of governance are often measures of one’s tolerance, fairness and decency as a civilized person? I disagree with almost every aspect of the Bush administration’s handling of the war in Iraq, which began four years ago today. But I am heartened that America can still summon people like Bob Gates, who answer that call with humility, a knowledge of history and a sense of personal responsibility for the trust they hold.

It is going to take some very rare leadership skills on both sides of the political aisle in Washington to respond to the increasing opposition to the war at home and, at the same time, manage the Pandora’s box of civil war, sectarian violence, corruption and instability that was opened with the first volley in the campaign of shock and awe four years ago. If ever there were words that will stand as testimonial to the folly of overconfident leaders who are guided only by information that corresponds with their pre-determined views, it is the phrase shock and awe.