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.

Secret side deals involving billions in public funds funneled to giant banks is no way to establish confidence or to advance transparency in a crisis that yearns for both.

Finally, some in the U.S. Congress have begun to take note of the fact that among the $175 billion in bailouts AIG received, billions were redirected to institutions like Goldman Sachs and Société Générale SA.  Few questions on this subject were asked of U.S. Treasury secretary Timothy F. Geithner and Fed chairman Ben S. Bernanke during their appearance today before the House Committee on Financial Services.  As we pointed out first on these pages a couple of weeks ago (even before The New York Times raised the issue of the non-haircut payments), it is curious that these counterparty transactions were made for 100 percent on the dollar.

As we said on March 7th:

Could these institutions have accepted, in the circumstances, say, 50 or 70 cents on the dollar?  It seems not.  Nothing but the full amount will do, even if it has to be paid with taxpayer dollars, once more. This, it appears, is what is meant by “systemic.”  

These are the kinds of details the Fed did not want the public to know.  It is another reason that prompts us to question the judgment being employed here, and the dire warnings that have been made that this bank or that insurance company was too big to fail and that the consequences would shake the world. It also makes us wonder whether the Fed really understands the dangers involved in the ever-expanding stack of trillions being invested, loaned out or printed that it says are needed.  Is it possible that this is where the real systemic risks lie, with a government leverage bubble?

Secret side deals involving billions in public funds funneled to giant banks is no way to establish confidence or to advance transparency in a crisis that yearns for both.  Outrageous as the AIG bonuses were, they were apparently symptomatic of a much darker and less than candid side on the part of the Fed and other decision makers that needs to be pursued by an alarmed public with equal vigor.