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.

In the long history of this honor, no head of state has ever received the Peace Prize while he has been in the midst of prosecuting, much less preparing to escalate, an active war.  This year’s choice raises many questions, starting with: Who is behind the award?

The first point to be made about the awarding of the famed Nobel Peace Prize to U.S. President Barack Obama, in the ninth month of his first term, is that it is not his fault.  He didn’t even apply.  The second is that when the world accords to select bodies and private interests the power to bestow fame and prestige, it should not be surprised when those decisions go a little awry.  They have on several occasions in the Peace Prize department.

Here are some useful facts:  The Norwegian Parliament elects five members who select the winner of the Peace Prize, and they serve for a five-year term.  The 2009 committee is made up of past politicians –every one of them.  There are no academics or scholars permitted to sit on the committee.  There are no non-Norwegians allowed.  This is a closed shop.  A Norwegian closed shop.

Closed, too, is the nomination process.  The committee decides which individuals and organizations are permitted to make nominations for the prize.  Over the years, an interesting tapestry has emerged.  Hitler and Mussolini were nominated.  Joseph Stalin was nominated twice.  Mahatma Gandhi, one of modern history’s most iconic symbols of peaceful change and non-violence, was nominated in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and 1948.  He did not win the prize, nor did nominees Winston Churchill or Franklin Roosevelt.  No wonder the prize’s organizers have elevated to the status of state secret who is actually nominated for the award.  That information is kept sealed for half a century.  So is the controversy that might attend the decision-making.  How do you confront fascism and make the world safe for democracy and not win a prize for peace?  Only the folks in Oslo seem to know for sure.

On the face of today’s announcement, it would appear that a committee composed of past politicians has been caught up in the euphoria that surrounds one of the most impressive masters of that craft.  In doing so, they have broken, likely unmindfully as so often occurs in states of euphoria, an important precedent.  In the long history of this honor, no head of state has ever received the Peace Prize while he has been in the midst of prosecuting, much less preparing to escalate, an active war.  As he received word of the committee’s decision today, Mr. Obama was about to meet with his “war” cabinet in the White House Situation Room, to examine recommendations to increase troop strength in Afghanistan.

Long before he was nominated for the office of President, we admired and supported Barack Obama.  He displayed a unique set of gifts as he aspired to lead the United States, and, by extension, much of the world.  His shift to a more inclusive form of global consultative leadership, as distinct from his predecessor’s divisive brand of bullying, is to be applauded and encouraged.  But it is this very admiration that compels us to observe that the Nobel Committee would have done him, and the reputation of the honor with which Alfred Nobel entrusted them, a greater service by giving the youthful President more time to accomplish his goals and to present a solid record of achievement.  Statements of good intentions, no matter how eloquently espoused, are no match for comforting millions struggling with poverty and disease or ending a war that enflamed the world.  Mr. Obama is smart enough to realize that.  He is also smart enough to know that such an award can only serve to raise even higher expectations whose outcome depends as much on others as it does on him.  Indeed, such early distinction might have a counterproductive effect in a world where jealous egos and petty rivalries can often make a fast meal of genuine progress.

Whatever else it does, the award will encourage others to take a much needed look at who is making these decisions and to question how well the virtues of openness and transparency, which are essential to nearly every other important global institution, are being served.

We suggest that a good beginning for such a review start with an enumeration of the chairman and members of the 2009 committee:

Thorbjørn Jagland (chair, born 1950), member of Parliament, President of the Storting and former cabinet minister for the Labour Party.  Member and chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee since 2009.

Kaci Kullmann Five (deputy chair, born 1951), former member of Parliament and cabinet minister for the Conservative Party.  Member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee since 2003, deputy chair since 2009.

Sissel Rønbeck (born 1950), deputy director, Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage (Riksantikvaren), former member of Parliament and cabinet minister for the Labour Party.  Member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee since 1994.

Inger-Marie Ytterhorn (born 1941), former member of Parliament for the Progress Party.  Member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee since 2000.

Ågot Valle (born 1945), member of Parliament for the Socialist Left Party.  Member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee since 2009.