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.

When he became BP’s CEO in 2007, Tony Hayward was quoted as saying that he would focus on safety matters like a laser.  But his mind-blowing evasiveness and complete failure to show what he did in that regard before a frustrated Congressional Committee proved he could not muster the intensity of a bathroom nightlight.

America, and a good part of the world, have seen a number of unimpressive Congressional performances on the part of business leaders in recent months and years.  Appearances by the heads of Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Countrywide Financial and the major Detroit automakers leap to mind.  But nothing can compare with the spectacle of BP CEO Tony Hayward, who testified — and the term can only be used in the loosest sense — before a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday.  It is hard to imagine a more profuse display of insincerity, evasion and stonewalling on the part of the man who leads the company which saw the deaths of 11 workers on its Deepwater Horizon oil rig and caused the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.  Far from taking responsibility for what occurred on his watch, he pointed his finger at everyone lower down in the organization.  Apparently, not even the company’s alarming emails indicating problems with the rig prompted any further investigation on Mr. Hayward’s part.  His knowledge of the spill and the causes leading to it seemed no better than the what could be expected from the average housewife in Minneapolis who has never been on an oil rig, much less been paid $6 million in compensation for heading a global oil company.  It was, in short, a performance that would have made Bruce Ismay, the infamous head of the White Star Line who owned the Titanic and managed to find his way into a lifeboat as the great ship was sinking, blush with embarrassment.

When he became CEO in 2007, Mr. Hayward was quoted as saying that he would focus on safety matters like a laser.  But his mind-blowing evasiveness and complete failure to show what he did in that regard proved he could not muster the intensity of a bathroom nightlight.

A few days ago we suggested that the repeated failures of the company to arrest the spill and recap the well should prompt President Barack Obama to fire BP and put a new crew in charge.  Since that time, the amount of oil still spewing from the well has increased dramatically.  The spill has taken an even greater toll in terms of nature, shorelines and jobs.  From a business perspective, no CEO has ever presided over a more horrendous loss of share value or such a steep decline in both investor and public esteem.

What is abundantly clear from today’s exhibition is that it is time for BP’s board to fire Mr. Hayward.  He simply does not comprehend how a leader is expected to act in a time of crisis.  To not do so immediately would be for BP to inflict yet more insult and calamity upon an investing public that has been shamefully beleaguered by management’s negligence and a shocked American public that is forced to witness this slow motion horror worsen with each day.