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.

Alan Greenspan, whose selective vision we have written about before, appears to have been “shocked, shocked” that tax cuts were contributing to the mounting deficit in the Bush administration. That is, if you believe his just released autobiography The Age of Turbulence. This is a man who, as head of the Fed until just 18 months ago, had nothing but praise for these same deep tax cuts when asked about them before Congress on several occasions. He wanted them made permanent, in fact. He also seemed to have lost his tongue when it came to raising red flags about other aspects of deficit spending that took hold of Mr. Bush and his fellow Republicans the likes of which no liberal would have dared attempt. Now both figure prominently as a source of outrage in the mind of the once revered oracle of U.S. monetary policy.

I recall Dr. Greenspan having a similar change of heart when it came to Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, which he initially supported along with the White House and both houses of Congress. More recently, however, private citizen Greenspan, who consults regularly to American business, expressed chagrin at the dampening effects of such legislation.

There is a very old toy, still popular with children, called Silly Putty. It is remarkably malleable and can be molded into just about any shape. It is an amusing property for a toy, but not so much for the character of those who hold high office. The public is entitled to expect that its leaders will be forthright in their views when it comes to the responsibilities they hold —not hold back their real thoughts for the best seller list.

How many other momentous events will later turn out to enjoy less support than met the eye at the time? What faulty decisions are being made today in Washington and around the world by figures who could stop them if only they had the courage to speak out. The lessons of Vietnam, and now Iraq, are painful testimony to the consequences of the voices unraised, the silent doubters and those who just could not bother to ask the tough questions.

The world needs leaders who are on the job today, when it matters and when they can effect change for the better, not in the book store telling us about what they really, really sincerely felt —tomorrow.