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.

More than two years ago, we asked the question “How long can Nortel go on being Nortel?” The final answer came this weekend, when it was announced that the remains of the company would be broken up and sold off, leaving not much except a once- respected, but long since discredited, name.

You might wonder what happened to Canada’s most valued corporate prize–this bastion of innovation that put Canadian technology on the map around the world. The answer is a failure of corporate governance, pure and simple.

Nortel had a series of boards that drew their cultural inspiration from the old Bell Canada monopoly model which gave the company its life many years ago. Many of Nortel’s directors in the 80s and 90s, and even in the 21st century, were also directors of Bell Canada. The former CEO of BCE (or Bell Canada now), Jean Monty, took two turns at being Nortel’s CEO and then going back to head BCE.

That model was about a never-ending deference to management and the assumption that large size would always translate into continued success. Nortel’s boards missed red flag after red flag and took the wrong turn in the market, like General Motors, on almost every occasion. They continued to put their fate in the hands of managers who were not up to it, and pay them absurd levels of compensation. They thought they could give lessons to the world on corporate governance. Several of Nortel’s directors, including one-time CEO John Roth, were on a committee appointed to reform Canada’s corporate governance practices. They fell embarrassingly short of that mark but did manage in one respect to provide an unexpected lesson: how to take a giant company with an astonishing pool of innovative workers and enormous shareholder support and turn it into a basket case of accounting scandals, self-serving management and stunningly complacent directors.

Rest in peace, Nortel. You deserved better.