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.

Larger men give up their posts before bringing disgrace upon themselves or their organizations. Smaller men cling to them like life rafts.

When a CEO shows up at a board meeting with his lawyer and demands “fairness” after bringing embarrassment upon the institution he is supposed to be leading, it is time for somebody to leave the room and not return. Usually, it is not the board.

Embattled World Bank CEO Paul D. Wolfowitz makes the mistake that too many CEOs make. He fails to understand that it’s not about what’s good for him. It’s about what’s good for the institution he heads. Mr. Wolfowitz and his lawyer, Robert S. Bennett, may try to do an elaborate tap dance around the board over the issues that brought them to this impasse. But the central point, as we have noted here previously, is that the credibility and respect essential to the sound functioning of the office of the World Bank’s chief is no longer there.

The greater danger in Mr. Wolfowitz’s staying is that it will almost surely compromise the Bank’s own governance reputation and make it apparent to the world that the board is merely a rubber stamp for the dictates of the U.S. administration. The Bank’s efforts to bring governance reform to developing countries will be terribly undermined if it becomes apparent that its own governance system is a sham.

Making accusations that the board is treating him shabbily, just days after being called upon to resign by dozens of former World Bank officials, only confirms that Mr. Wolfowitz does not grasp the nature of the relationships and the esteem that are necessary to carry on with the job. One by one, important constituencies are withdrawing their support, and with each unheeded demand for his resignation Mr. Wolfowitz appears a lesser and lesser figure. In this he has much in common with another Bush appointee, embattled attorney general Alberto Gonzales. Both these men give the impression of being smaller than life figures occupying the huge offices they hold. Larger men give up their posts before bringing disgrace upon themselves or their organizations. Smaller men cling to them like life rafts.

Great institutions like the World Bank cannot be headed by little men. Nor can they be governed by those who are unable or unwilling to stem the erosion in the stature of the body they are entrusted to protect. The Wolfowitz girlfriend ordeal must be ended. If Mr. Wolfowitz does not step aside —and soon— the board must do the job for him.