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.

Two thousand and seven was marked by a series of scandals and betrayals on the part of those society has traditionally looked to for guidance and example.   We explored some of these in our Annual Year End Awards for 2007.  But among the privileged corporate leaders who stole from their shareholders, the gatekeepers who were blind to the risks inherent in dealing with a country noted for its lack of transparency and unaccountable governance, and the directors and regulators who slumbered while  the credit disaster was unfolding, a betrayal of an even higher order was permitted to slip by.

As a result of their greed-driven blunders that soared into the billions of dollars and are certain to cause even greater havoc among consumers, homeowners, employees and investors in 2008, Wall Street icons, including Citibank, J.P. Morgan and Merrill Lynch, sold substantial chunks of themselves to sovereign wealth funds run by non-democratic regimes. China, which time and again has shown the extent to which it cannot be trusted in its products and exports, has been prominent among them, as have affluent oil rich countries.  No democratic nation was included in the group.

The one silver lining in all of this is that the mess Wall Street and its subprime, fee-grabbing wizards have wrought has been so egregious as to unite liberals and conservatives, free market advocates and proponents of responsible regulation in a common chorus of indignation. Generations before have had to bear the costs of Wall Street’s excesses and the shortcomings in its supervision. Perhaps the demand for reform this time will bring about a more transparent market along with more vigilant guardians and regulators.  What is also required, however, is a change in stakeholders themselves where they aren’t so willing to give a pass to boards that award a CEO a sultan’s treasure one year only to learn they have to give him a king’s ransom in severance the next because of his failed plan.  As we have suggested on more than one occasion in the past year, Pharaonic pay is never a guarantee of future success.  Sometimes it has no connection with success at all.

It is bad enough that Wall Street’s lead actors can walk off with hundreds of millions in the aftermath of their blunders, but for tyrannical and repressive regimes that place little credence in American values of freedom, transparency and accountability to profit from the crisis by acquiring major stakes in America’s financial heart is, for us, the Outrage of the Year.