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.

A UBS commercial asks if the company could be “the most powerful two-person financial firm in the world.” With a total of $38 billion in subprime related write-downs, and a Q1 loss of $11 billion reported today, it seems to be headed in that direction. It also plans to cut some 5,500 jobs.

The sheer magnitude of the bad decisions that would have put so much money at risk almost defies comprehension, especially for an institution like UBS that prides itself as a money manager for the very wealthy.

We are told, as we have been in every year since the Enron scandals, that director compensation has risen across the board. It is up by 12 percent over last year. The reason, so they say, is the increased work load in the wake of Sarbanes-Oxley. There have been regular stories since the passage of the first U.S. securities laws in 1933 and 1934 that boards are working harder than ever. One scholarly commentator remarked in the 1930s that “the weight of the New Deal” appears to have fallen on the board of directors. There has never been a time when boards have admitted that they could be doing more for investors. But they always claim they are working so much harder than they did before. And they demand more money. Yet for all that extra work, the world is facing its worst credit crisis since the Great Depression and a scale of losses unimagined even in that bleak period. The financial sector has posted more than $300 billion in mortgage-related losses and write-downs since the beginning of the subprime crisis.

Firms in the financial sector, like UBS, claim to have superior listening powers and ways of understanding the market that give added value to investors and customers. With the costly underperformance of so many of these institutions, much of which we have attributed to a failure of corporate governance, a more credible demonstration that boards truly value their investors would be to start giving back some of their fees, not adding insult to injury by demanding more money for the privilege of presiding over more losses.