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.

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The real purpose behind the Bush Administration’s plan is not to help the victims of the subprime turmoil, but rather the perpetrators of the economic crime who unleashed it in the first place.

To justify their out-of-this-world bonuses, the titans of Wall Street and the kings of the home lending business, like Countrywide Financial’s Angelo Mozilo, claimed they were merely being compensated according to the dictates of the market. No mere mortal dare challenge or question the end result where many received $40- or $50- or $100-million paydays. It was the invisible hand that decided. And it was sacred.

But now the results of that invisible hand look more like a rubble of confusion and ruin, at least as they related to the subprime mortgage industry and the unsettling economic blunders created by Wall Street on a global scale. So it is government that is expected to intervene to bring stability to the market’s jittery hand. An ever-receding Fed interest rate has been one response, along with world central bankers flooding the market with cash. One wonders how the same low interest rates, which saw the concept of risk take a very long vacation, will improve over the long run a situation that was created substantially by low interest rates.

Yesterday, President George W. Bush and Secretary of the Treasury Henry M. Paulson Jr., who are generally advocates of the free market when it is more convenient than present circumstances permit, announced a plan that purports to help distressed home owners by bringing lenders and borrowers together to solve problems. Only a fraction of those expected to need help will benefit. A more realistic interpretation of what is at work here is an effort to bring stability to Wall Street’s largest institutions, which are facing giant losses, slumping share value and increasingly nervous clients.

As much as we admire the discipline and innovations a well (and we hope fair) functioning market can produce, the case for the constructive use of government policy and influence in that market is well established. Some argue that FDR did more to save capitalism than all the J.P. Morgans combined. What is galling is that Wall Street and American business are eager to accept the idea when it is in their own narrow interests, such as now, while at other times –and especially at bonus time– government is exhorted to stay out of the market. And don’t think for one moment that the big players do not see a considerable direct benefit in government efforts, supported by Fed accommodations, that help to stabilize the effects of the housing meltdown.

The plan announced yesterday is something in the nature of saving the financial community that created the ticking time bomb of subprime loans and syndications from itself. Offensive as that may be to some, the indignation pales in comparison to the fact that those who created this mess are the ones that have benefited most handsomely from it. The sting of that image is not reduced as some, like Merrill Lynch’s Stanley O’Neal, are seen making a fast exit with piles of money to ease their pain. We set out some of our views on the public stake in CEO compensation as it relates to the subprime meltdown in a recent guest column on the corporate governance blog of Harvard Law School.

What might have restored confidence in the moral underpinnings of this system–without which it cannot continue to function– would have been a statement from President Bush or Secretary Paulson that they have also worked out a plan whereby a substantial part of the compensation and bonuses that were derived from these toxic loan concoctions would be given back and placed into a fund to assist distressed homeowners. The symbolism would have been significant and a major boost to the idea that fairness, too, is a commodity that the marketplace values.

That did not happen because the real purpose behind the Administration’s plan is not to help the victims of the subprime turmoil, but rather the perpetrators of the economic crime who unleashed it in the first place.