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.

image_friedman_sm.gifThe other towering bookend of 20th century economics passed away this week. There must be something in the life of an economist that fosters “the long run”. Milton Friedman was 94. When John Kenneth Gailbraith died last April, he was 97.

I will leave it to others to chronicle Mr. Friedman’s staggering contribution to the literature and thought of the modern functioning marketplace. I have long contended that he underestimated the importance of the psychological aspect of the market and its interactions with people and governments and the consequences when public confidence in the workings of capitalism in a democracy is withdrawn. Were it not for the interventions of governments, whose intellectual champions were Keynes and Galbraith, it is widely believed that the free market would have collapsed entirely under the weight of the Great Depression and the rising tide of public outrage that was then shaping the political landscape. It remains a mystery to me why John Galbraith was never awarded the Nobel Prize for his work, if not the prodigiousness of his writings, in modern economics. Fortunately, the Nobel committee did not make that mistake with Mr. Friedman.

As for Mr. Friedman’s view that corporate social responsibility was “fundamentally subversive”: I think we have seen its absence in the boardroom, on Wall Street and in the environment on so many occasions and long enough to conclude that it is impossible for these giant institutions that shape the lives of countless millions to exist without being governed by the most evolved sense of social responsibility as to their conduct, which, at the very least, is to ensure that they do no harm. In any event, Mr. Friedman surely could not have failed to be impressed by the marketing potential that comes from companies attaching themselves to “good deeds” and popular social causes, which for many is what corporate social responsibility has been relegated to and through which shareholders often receive substantial rewards in company earnings and stock appreciation.

There are few on the scene today who begin to approach the passion, personality and authenticity of voice that were the hallmarks of these intellectual titans. It was good to have been a contemporary of a time when they both enlivened their profession and the lives of the people who occasionally glimpsed into it.