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.

The New York Times’s Nicholas Kristof visited the World Economic Forum at Davos last week and came back impressed by the idea of social entrepreneurship. As his column observes today:

But perhaps the most remarkable people to attend aren’t the world leaders or other bigwigs.

Rather, they are the social entrepreneurs. Davos, which has always been uncanny in peeking just ahead of the curve to reflect the zeitgeist of the moment, swarmed with them. . . .

Glad as I am to have such an accomplished and thoughtful writer as Mr. Kristof celebrate the concept of social entrepreneurship, I felt some clarification was in order as to its so-called Davos connections. I posted the following comment on the NYT web site earlier today. Since a Times Select account is required in order to view columns and post comments (they are experiencing a bit of a financial pinch as you may know), I have reprised my comment below. I will have more on the annual Davos spectacle later in the week.

It is unfortunate that the World Economic Forum at Davos was the catalyst for Mr. Kristof’s insightful column. Davos is not exactly the spiritual center of the social entrepreneurial movement, conventional wisdom notwithstanding. I first wrote about the idea of social enterprise in 1977 (that’s not a misprint), and it has been a continuing part of my venture capital activity for more than three decades. Mr. Kristof’s observation about Davos being “ahead of the curve” on this point is therefore somewhat amusing, though I am sure well intentioned.

One of the more interesting new dimensions to the social enterprise field are the knowledge innovators who are using the Internet and social media tools to help empower individual stakeholders in their dealings with business and government, which generally suffer from an imbalance of information, power and resources. Whether the goal is helping to make consumers better informed or citizens more efficacious in tackling issues from global trade to global warming, you can anticipate far-reaching changes in the way institutions function because of the work of these knowledge entrepreneurs in the years ahead. I suspect this will not be something the disciples of Davos will wish to encourage too strongly.

The fact remains that Davos attracts only a tiny portion of this amazingly transformative force in the world. Most are too busy or too modest to contemplate a trip up the mountain and would, in any event, feel uncomfortable, as many others do, with this annual display of overreaching ego and power. Davos has essentially become the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) of CEOs.

That’s not where self-respecting social entrepreneurs want to be.