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.

I have a guest post on the corporate governance blog of Harvard Law School. This is an interesting site where you can find the thoughts of some of the leading legal scholars in the field. It often prompts some lively (or what passes for same on the part of lawyers) exchanges on corporate governance and CEO pay matters from students, faculty and prominent figures in the legal community.

Here are a couple of excerpts from my post:

I have been observing with considerable skepticism the course of CEO remuneration over a number of years, having dubbed excessive CEO pay the “mad cow disease of the North American boardroom.” Empirically–as many who have spent much time in and around the boardroom will acknowledge–there is a point where additional tens of millions become marginal as an inducement to higher performance. In my view, that point occurs very early in the compensation tally.

There is the additional element of public opinion, which indicates that there is mounting outrage over what is widely perceived to be outsized senior level compensation. Those who think the only consideration with respect to CEO pay is how much firm “value” is created would do well to recall that capitalism has experienced periods where public opprobrium has translated itself into aggressive–sometimes even punitive–legislative action. If we are not at that point, we are perilously close to it. The current wave of abuses involving backdating in stock options has further reduced public confidence in the moral legitimacy of business leadership at a time when it is still recovering from the betrayals associated with Enron, WorldCom, and many others.