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.jpgHe was appointed by his friend, the President, after detailing plans for the invasion of Iraq. His mission included tackling corruption and addressing issues of growing global poverty. And, in fact, he discovered a new tool for narrowing at least part of the wealth gap that plagues much of the world: direct the appointment of a woman with whom he was romantically involved in such a way as to maximize her salary without going through the customary formalities. Now, World Bank chair Paul D. Wolfowitz is faced with a revolt by staff and an embarrassment on a world scale.

He excuses his actions as a mistake in judgment. That might work for a teenager who has never been away from home. Mr. Wolfowitz, however, is a sophisticated man who has travelled in the company of kings and presidents. Perhaps he thought he was one. His infamous fiat to the bank’s vice-president of human resources:

“I now direct you to agree to a proposal which includes the following terms and conditions …You should accept immediately her offer to be detailed to an outside institution of her choosing while retaining bank salary and benefits.”

certainly is suggestive of such a regal self-image. But what is not plausible is that he did not know what he was doing was wrong. Of course, if he really wants to maintain that line, then the institution has an idiot on its hands as well as a scandal. The World Bank doesn’t need another Alberto Gonzales at its helm.

All that leaders who head important public and corporate institutions have is their moral franchise. Their reputation for ethics and integrity is both their shield and their sword. Once that is lost, their ability to lead by example is compromised beyond repair, and with it their ability to perform. The staff of the World Bank appear to understand this. The question is: Do the directors who make up its executive board? And does President Bush, who appointed Mr. Wolfowitz and appears to hold the keys to his fate?

We have chosen Mr. Wolfowitz’s failure to resign in the face of the humiliation he has brought upon this institution as a result of his ethical misadventure as our Outrage of the Week. He has made those who supported him look like fools. Let us hope they do not adopt also the trappings of clowns in failing to demand his resignation.