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.

Former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain has tried to explain his spending spree of more than a million dollars on antiques for his office, in December of 2007.  He claims it was a “very different economic environment.”  How different might that be?

He was brought in to replace Stanley O’Neal –who had just presided over a $2.3 billion third-quarter loss in 2007– at the time of the worst loss in the company’s history.  Shortly after Mr. Thain took over, the company reported a staggering 9.8 billion loss for the fourth quarter, an even bigger record smasher.  But these losses were apparently not enough to cause Mr. Thain to have any doubts about the “economic environment” –or the merit, much less optics, of spending $1.2 million on carpets, drapes, antique chairs, mahogany tables and the world’s most expensive waste paper basket at $1,400.

We said recently that Mr. Thain’s actions are an example of what we have seen too often on Wall Street: the patently over-praised engaging in the unmistakably despicable.  From what we saw of Mr. Thain’s flimsy explanation, we must add to it the spectacle of the disingenuous fleeing to the indefensible.  This appears to be a growing characteristic of those who occupy double digit million dollar luxury digs on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.  Richard Fuld (of defunct Lehman Brothers), Jimmy Cayne (who once headed Bear Stearns) and Bernie Madoff (now confined mainly to house arrest while he awaits trial on charges of masterminding the largest Ponzi scheme in the world) jump to mind. 

Some neighborhood.  Penthouses and shiny Escalades on every corner, but seldom even the frailest silhouette of sound judgment ever encountered.