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.

The board of SLM Corp., known in many circles as Sallie Mae, announced the appointment today of a new chairman and company CFO. They must have forgotten the other change they need to make: CEO Albert L. Lord. Mr. Lord captured considerable attention last month when, after being questioned during an analysts conference call about selling 97 per cent of his stock in the company, he turned to his PR person and said “let’s get the f**ck out of here.” That was after he told analysts they would have to pass through a metal detector to attend a company conference. Sallie Mae has been buffeted by the need to re-finance some $30 billion in debt along with slumping stock.

We are wondering, since Mr. Lord still has his job, if this is part of some trend. Selling huge amounts of company stock and uttering an expletive during a publicly broadcasted session no longer seem to be taboo, as far as SLM is concerned. What’s next? Are we to be treated to the spectacle of CEOs showing up drunk at annual meetings and trashing shareholders like some kind of Don Rickles comedy act? Maybe Jimmy Cayne’s sitting out a corporate crisis at Bear Stearns during a golf and bridge vacation last summer, and then doing whatever the Wall Street Journal reports he did involving a rather controversial tobacco substitute, will be seen as pretty innocuous.

It would be nice to think there are some standards which CEOs are expected to live by and directors will enforce. But then we are from the old school that believes CEOs should lead by example. When last we checked, that did not include the CEO dumping stock while expecting investors to hold on to theirs and dispensing profanities we wouldn’t tolerate from our children.