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.

Panic makes an encore appearance after Wall Street’s record drop.  America’s leaders do not.

The word perilous hardly begins to describe the times.  Much of the world’s economy is only beginning to see daylight after the financial storm of generations.  Trust in Wall Street and the mechanisms of government is at record lows. In Europe, Athens riots on a daily basis and the rest of Greece approaches economic freefall.  The financial health of Spain and Portugal is fragile. The prospect of contagion remains real. Talk of bailouts again abounds.  This time it is governments rescuing one another, with the outcome far from clear as to where or when it will end and at what cost.  World currencies are gyrating in unsettling ways while an eerily upward creeping Libor rate makes an unexpected comeback.  Then, out of the blue, the Dow plunges by nearly 1000-points in a matter of minutes before closing down 347 points.  Panic makes an encore appearance on Wall Street.

You might have thought if there were ever a time for leaders to personally take center stage and be seen, it would be today.  But President Barack Obama did not appear to offer any reassurance.  There were no words from Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner to calm the markets.  SEC chairman Mary Schapiro remained incommunicado, as she has for much of her term.  Her office issued a press release, which will likely  have about the same impact as the commission’s feeble early investigation of Bernie Madoff.

This is not the way to deal with the biggest point drop in the history of the New York Stock Exchange, much less the fragile commodity called confidence. The turmoil on Wall Street and around the world is raising many questions. Answers, not silence, are needed from a nation’s leaders.

Update:  May 7, 2010 10:46 AM ET

Well into the trading day and with no explanation yet for the sudden plunge just short of 1000 points yesterday, volatility now at a 52-week high, and mounting financial turmoil in Europe, neither the President, Treasury secretary or Chairman of the SEC has personally appeared before the cameras or the media to provide any clarifying information or reassurance.  The heads of the NYSE and NASDAQ are pointing fingers at one another and rumors abound that the record drop was prompted by the liquidation of a hedge fund.  World currencies are continuing to experience wild swings and investors, direct and indirect, are beginning to experience a bad case of nerves again. North American stock markets are in the fourth day of a serious slide.

Is anyone getting this in Washington?