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.jpgIt was bizarre almost beyond belief. Though he now admits he had received advance intelligence that an Air India plane would be attacked by Sikh extremists on a weekend in June of 1985, he failed to tell his superiors. Nor did he apparently even do what almost every bureaucrat is programmed to do —write a memo confirming his fears and send it to other concerned officials. But when the RCMP brushed off his warnings, he did nothing more and went home. The plane was blown up off the coast of Ireland a few days after the intelligence warning on June 22, 1985.  It was the largest mass murder of Canadians in peactime, killing 329 souls –82 were children.

If that’s not enough, the actions of this senior intelligence officer for Canada’s department of external affairs get even stranger. He didn’t bother to follow up about the warning after the plane was downed, even though all of official Ottawa was in crisis mode in the days following the bombing. And over the ensuing 22 years, James Bartleman admits that he did not say a word about the warning in all the time he held a variety of increasingly high-level positions. In his four-volume autobiography –that’s right, four volumes (many more historically noteworthy figures have a problem producing just one volume on their lives; Thomas Jefferson didn’t write any), he talks in great detail about his boyhood and professional life —excluding, however, that one all-important fact that he revealed earlier this week.

Mr. Bartleman has enjoyed just about every public honour the country has to offer. He has held postings representing Canada abroad as its ambassador and currently occupies one of the most important ceremonial offices in the country as Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario. Yet, during all this time, he thought it right to remain silent about a key piece of the evidentiary puzzle so long missing until this week when, accompanied by his lawyer, he showed up at a public inquiry into the bombing. His failure to come forward at an earlier time, he explains, resulted from being out of the country for many years. He was not, we presume, in a cave without telephones and faxes. There were many return trips to Canada during this period, as there are for any ambassador. It’s a story that is hard to accept and victims’ families are not buying it. Many understandably regard Mr. Bartleman’s decision to drop the ball and not pick it up again for more than two decades as another in a long list of official betrayals. Many will wonder, as we do here, how such an individual can be permitted to retain his vice-regal post, given the trust and esteem the role enjoys. Some may also ponder what kind of signal this conduct sends to current civil servants who might also be tempted to follow the path of least resistance.

The public rightfully expects that those it entrusts to protect it will always go the extra mile in that task —not just walk away after doing the minimum. The kind of shocking misjudgments reflected in Mr. Bartleman’s behavior —the failure to follow up the initial warning to all centers of government authority that needed the information, the failure to alert superiors to an imminent terrorist act, and the failure to come forward to ensure the warning was on the record after the disaster occurred— would be career-ending moves for any mid-level civil servant and would most decidedly not be the basis for promotion and high honors, which is why James Bartleman’s astonishing and still not credibly explained actions are our choice for the Outrage of the Week.