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.

outrage 12.jpgOnce again, a whirlwind is about to separate American homeowners from their homes. While the devastation of Hurricane Katrina was an act of nature, the disaster involving subprime lending was entirely man-made. Mortgage foreclosures are proceeding at record levels, especially in states like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. It is feared that millions of families will lose their homes. The companies involved in the lending, after making huge profits, are themselves teetering on failure.

How did this happen? Congress bears some responsibility for the mess. Lawmakers’ occasional and rather half-hearted efforts to tighten lending practices to people who could have no hope of dealing with higher interest rates or financial setback were rebuffed by aggressive lobbying on the part of companies like New Century, a big subprime lender. Over the past few years, it has been a heavy contributor to House and Senate members on both sides of the aisle. Then there are the profits made by giant brokerage houses and investment banking institutions, which found a way to repackage these loans and spin off huge fees. They, too, are major campaign contributors. And the hefty profits to be made from higher interest rates and big fees in this market was as much of a temptation to the financial sector as the availability of mortgages that would otherwise not be available to credit challenged individuals was to that market. It was a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode. It might have been good if the Bush administration had had something to say about this before recent days –like maybe they tried to avert the meltdown. Sorry, no one home there, either.

There is much blame to go around when financial epidemics like this occur. But prime among the culprits in this instance is the Federal Reserve Board. Once again, it is a case where regulators failed to act. They left it to the market. Sometimes that is a good idea. Sometimes it is a catastrophe. People are paid to know the difference and to understand when to move. But the Fed,which is supposed to be alert to signs of impending financial instability, dropped the ball. At Senate hearings on the subject yesterday, a Fed official admitted it “could have done more sooner.” Sorry, not really good enough.


Perhaps the wooly-headed and obtuse writing it regularly produces in connection with its monetary policies, designed, it would seem, for no one to really understand so that no blame can actually be attributed to these policy makers if they get it wrong, is actually symptomatic of a broader kind of muddled and imperceptive thinking that goes on there. We don’t expect the Fed to be omniscient. But we can expect it to see and act on the obvious. It failed to react to the looming subprime disaster. Which begs the question: What else is the Fed missing? Is it really on top of the derivatives market? Does it know the risks being incurred by hedge funds and their potential consequences? What about private equity funds, whose reach and influence extend into the trillions of dollars. Neither world capital markets nor ordinary Americans can afford a Fed like this. Which is why, in its failure to anticipate and manage this unfolding disaster that will claim so much in human suffering and economic losses, the inaction of the Fed is the Outrage of the Week.