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 magnitude of the financial injury worldwide and the costs to repair it are breathtaking.  But the loss of faith occasioned by what so many see as a colossal betrayal on the part of leaders and institutions may prove the most damaging of all.

The tenth month in the Gregorian calendar will go into history (please!) as the time when more money was lost by shareholders around the world and then found by governments to prop up the global financial system than any four-week period since civilization began.   The amounts may well exceed ten thousand billion dollars when you consider the plunge in stock markets worldwide and the sums public treasuries are coming up with to bailout the banks and just about anything else that has a profit and loss statement.

The ultimate costs both human and financial of this economic carnage and unprecedented public monetary infusion will not be known for many years.  The impact on the economy and monetary stability from the “solution” may carry unforeseen repercussions, just as the problem it is designed to solve went under the radar for too long.  Without doubt, the interaction between capitalism and government has fundamentally shifted, as has confidence on the part of millions of citizens in the institutions they once admired but, alas, no longer even wish to be seen associating with.  It may well be that a generation of investors which has lost so much will choose to forsake the stock market for the rest of their lives.  Many young people could be left with an indelible impression of a system that can never be trusted, except that is to work profitably for a handful at the top until their folly and greed reaches the point where even they become its victims, too.  The seeds of individual bitterness and social unrest have often been sown when the whirlwind of momentous events unearths the land.

Here’s a question –call it the ten trillion-dollar question:  If bankers had done the jobs expected of them in a diligent fashion; if boards of directors had taken an interest in debt and leverage ¾two subjects that didn’t seem to be part of their vocabularies, much less on their agendas; if regulators had been breathing and perhaps even conscious; if policy makers had had the vision to see the possibility of failure and not just the mirage of endless prosperity, do you think all this would have happened?   And what does it say about institutions and leaders in the 21st century that so many seemed incapable of exercising sound judgment and common sense, even when some were receiving compensation on a scale never seen in the history of professional managers?  

The magnitude of the financial injury worldwide and the costs to repair it are, indeed, breathtaking.  But the loss of faith occasioned by what so many see as a colossal betrayal on the part of leaders and institutions who acted as though they had the wisdom of prophets, but in truth had not even the foresight of blind men, may prove the most damaging of all.  It is a lesson that will be remembered long after this October of the fleeting trillions has faded.