Vanessa Zimmerman

Chair, Human Rights Leadership Group
UN Global Compact Network Australia

Vanessa Zimmerman

Chair, Human Rights Leadership Group
UN Global Compact Network Australia

Biography

Vanessa is a recognised global and domestic corporate sustainability expert focusing on human rights.

Originally an anti-trust lawyer at King & Wood Mallesons she then specialised in the field of business and human rights, starting by working for five years as a Legal Advisor to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises, Harvard Professor John Ruggie. This included being part of the core team supporting him to draft the internationally recognised UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The UN Guiding Principles are now the authoritative global standard for preventing and addressing business-related human rights abuse, embedded within major corporate sustainability initiatives and being implemented by all key stakeholder groups.

Vanessa has advised other key business and human rights initiatives such as IHRB, the UN Global Compact, and the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights. She has also worked with Australian business from a variety of sectors, the Australian government and civil society. For the past six and a half years Vanessa has managed implementation of the human rights strategy at Rio Tinto.

Vanessa has held various expert advisory roles including one of her current roles as Board Member of the Global Compact Network Australia and Chair of its Human Rights Leadership Group. Vanessa was also appointed to the Australian government’s Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group on Business and Human Rights and to the Global Reporting Initiative’s Technical Committee on Human Rights Disclosure.

For the past twelve years, Vanessa has built an international profile writing and presenting on business and human rights, and the wider sustainability discourse at over 100 events in ten countries, alongside high level business, government, investor and civil society representatives. In 2016 she was recognised as one of 100 Australian Women of Influence and was shortlisted to join the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights. In 2018 she was a finalist in the Agenda Setter of the Year category in the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards and received a special commendation for her work.

Vanessa has a Master of Laws from Harvard University, Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and Bachelor of Arts (Japanese) from Monash University in Australia.

All session by Vanessa Zimmerman