Events and insight for sustainability

Business and human rights: manage risk, implement policy and secure relationships

1st November 2017
2nd November 2017

Timeslots are provisional and exact timings may change


Opening address

Paul Bowden, partner, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer


Is human rights risk REALLY anything more than a reputational risk?

What does it take to make companies act on human rights?

Previously, companies have viewed human rights as a reputational risk – if abuses are uncovered, the repercussions for the company’s reputation have been at the forefront. Is that still the case? Does it take a scandal to make companies act?

On balance, a number of companies now look beyond the immediate reputational risk, at the cost savings and efficiencies that can be made across the board when implementing an effective human rights policy.

In this first session, we will assess the current state of human rights in business, and uncover what the real drivers are for pushing through the human rights agenda in your organisation.

Jan Klawitter, principal, international relations, Anglo American
David Schofield, group head of corporate responsibility, Aviva
Francesca de Meillac, senior business advisor, Ethical Trading Initiative
Annette Fergusson, head of sustainable business, Vodafone

Moderator: Toby Webb, founder, Innovation Forum


Coffee break


Civil society expectations: where do you stand now and where do you need to be in five years?

The strength and interconnected nature of business in every day society is ever more present, where of the world’s 100 largest economies, 69 are companies rather than states, and global value chains make up 80% of world trade.

The influence of business filters through the everyday lives of civil society in more ways than we know, so what responsibility does that bestow upon companies?

NGO campaigns can spark new trends in the focus of sustainability teams in companies around the world, but to what extent do they set your agenda? How can you keep ahead of these campaigns? And ultimately, where does business need to be to meet expectations regarding the protection of our everyday rights?

Both at the start and of this session, we will poll the audience on what they would argue are the most important areas for business to focus, and we will see how opinions are impacted in this one-hour conversation.

Seema Joshi, head of business and human rights, Amnesty International
Phil Bloomer, executive director, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre
Gillian Caldwell, CEO, Global Witness

Moderator: Ian Welsh, publishing director, Innovation Forum


Question time: Supply chain mapping – where to start, what to look for and the technologies to help you uncover risks beyond tier one

More and more, mapping out supply chains is becoming a requirement of companies as it provides increased certainty around where a product has come from, the stages that have gone into its production, and who has made it.

The advantages are numerous, with reduced risk, better products, and improved transparency. Simple right?

But mapping a global supply chain can be an extremely costly, time consuming and daunting task.

This session takes a practical look at where to start initially, and how to uncover the murky web beyond tier one.

Some of the questions we’ll be asking include:

  • Is 100% traceability realistic? And is it worth it?
  • How to establish – and prioritise – high risk areas?
  • What’s the latest technology that can help us?

Philippa Williams, Risk Advisor, Latin America, BSI
Catherine Thompson, innovation manager, Fairtrade Foundation

Moderator: Ian Welsh, publishing director, Innovation Forum




Breakout 1: Measuring your mark – what makes a good impact assessment, and what are the limitations?

More and more companies are looking to measure, monitor and quantify the impact of their sustainability initiatives.

These programmes are a big investment, and there is a growing need to both understand and measure the impact of programmes.

Practically, how do you actually calculate and measure social impact?

Is it realistic – and even necessary – to place a (financial) value on the impact of your human rights work?

And with a growth in demand for good, useful data, how do you get this from your results?

Paul Gerrard, Group Policy and Campaigns Director, Co-op
Penny Fowler, head of private sector team, Oxfam

Moderator: Simon Usher, chair, Made-By

Breakout 2: Crisis role play: tackling a ‘real life’ scenario

In this breakout group attendees will be divided into teams and given a scenario, taken from real life, to tackle. We’ll then host a facilitated ‘press conference’ where some participants will play the role of the company, responding to allegation, whilst others will play the roles of critical NGOs, and the media.

The company representatives will have some time to prepare their responses, and the stakeholder groups will prepare their questions and solutions separately. Then we’ll hold a real-time press conference, and put our participants to the test.

The session will be completely off the record and the real life example used will be fictionalised. 

Facilitated by Tobias Webb, founder, Innovation Forum




Breakout 1: Reporting workshop: what’s important, and what’s not? How to make your reports more meaningful

The task of communicating and reporting on the work business is doing to improve human rights standards is extremely important. Assuming you have the good, useful data from your impact assessments (see above), companies stand to truly benefit from better communication, encouraging greater transparency across the board.

Investors are increasingly calling for business to act – and report – on the work they are doing on human rights. furthermore, they are placing an emphasis on the value of reporting and data that can be compared.

In this session, we’ll learn about the pilot year of the Workforce Disclosure Initiative, and take a look at how your reports can evolve whilst highlighting the key work you are doing.

Vaidehee Sachdev, senior research analyst, Share Action
Katherina Lindmeier, responsible investment analyst, Aberdeen Standard Investments

Moderator: Mairead Keigher, advisor, business and human rights, Shift

Breakout 2: Unicef crisis case study: you’ve found child labour – what now?

Child labour continues to exist on a massive scale, all over the world. The majority of cases are found at the remote end of a company’s supply chain, often where the role of a child varies culturally, making an already complex issue even more sensitive.

In this practical session, delegates will be placed in a scenario where child labour has been found and, in groups, must work through steps they could take to respond, forming a plan for remediation.

Facilitated by:

Marilu Gresens Peries, child rights and business specialist, Unicef
Maria Pia Bianchetti, senior private sector policy and advocacy advisor, Unicef


Coffee break


Q&A: engaging procurement – practical guidance on how to communicate effectively and align interests

A common barrier to embedding human rights policy throughout supply chains is the perceived additional cost that will fall on the procurement department. Inconsistencies between the objectives of managers in procurement roles versus sustainability and corporate responsibility are commonplace.

However, more companies are seeing increasing synergies between internal departments with better supplier engagement, long-term planning and social considerations that are integrated from the outset.

Using a case study approach, this session will explore a corporate example of where these inconsistencies have been overcome, to ensure that procurement is engaged on human rights issues.

Jennie Galbraith, head of sustainability and reputation management, British American Tobacco
Nigel Rowland, group head of procurement strategy and planning, British American Tobacco

Moderator: Toby Webb, founder, Innovation Forum


Data privacy and the associated human rights related expectations

Privacy is a hot topic, and with the enormous amount of data that companies own, it can be an overwhelming, but necessary, task to keep up with identifying, assessing and managing privacy risks internally and throughout the supply chain.

Concerns have developed around how data is stored, used and shared. Furthermore, as a rapidly evolving threat, business is still catching up with human rights risks around personal data privacy and the associated cyber risk. With increasing attacks, hackers are gaining access to sensitive information that the public shares with corporations.

In this final session, we’ll dig deep into data and determine the role of CSR departments in developing, implementing and monitoring business practices for responsible customer data use.

Jacqueline Drury, associate, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Andreas Klug, global head of privacy and group privacy officer, Worldpay

Moderator: Ian Welsh, publishing director, Innovation Forum


Drinks reception


Modern slavery: two years on, how do you keep up the momentum internally?

There is no doubt that the UK Modern Slavery Act has been ground-breaking, weaving the path for over 1800 companies to release statements on commitments to eradicate modern slavery from supply chains. The demand for transparency from government has sparked substantial discussion amongst business, government and civil society, elevating the issue to board level.

However, with two years since the first statements, will companies become fatigued with another statement to write and sign off? How do we avoid companies falling behind once the initial momentum of the legislation dissipates?

In this session, we will explore how best to keep up the momentum the Act has surfaced, so that eradicating modern slavery remains a top priority for the board and business as a whole.

Cindy Berman, head of modern slavery strategy, Ethical Trading Initiative
Caroline Meledo, senior manager, corporate responsibility and human rights, Hilton
Eoghan Griffin, manager, corporate responsibility, John Lewis
Andrew Wallis, CEO, Unseen

Moderator: Michelle Bramley, global head of knowledge, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer


Emerging legislation: how does the changing legal environment affect your business, and what are the implications for your supply chain?

The tide of human rights legislation continues to roll. The UN recently released new recommendations on business and human rights, around due diligence requirements of business, throughout their supply chains. In addition, the UK Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has suggested the UK government consider creating a new offence when corporates fail to prevent human rights abuses. The European Commission has also released new guidance on non-financial reporting, which comes from an EU directive covering corporate due diligence processes on all human rights issues.

With the continuing flow of new and evolving legislation, companies need to know how to keep ahead. In this session, we will discuss how your business is affected, and how rules around disclosure and legal liability impact your operations.

Michael Quayle, associate, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Lys Ford, partnership development manager, Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
Laura Okkonen, head of human rights, Nokia

Moderator: Ian Welsh, publishing director, Innovation Forum


Coffee break


Breakouts: industry case studies

In this set of breakouts, we will take a case study approach to different industries where human rights risks are high. In a more intimate setup, speakers will be able to speak candidly about their experience, from discovering human rights abuses, through to any remediation steps that have taken place.

Breakout 1: Agriculture

Lys Ford, partnership development manager, Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
Simon Usher, chair, Made-By
Owen Bethell, global issue and communications manager, Nestlé

Moderator: Toby Webb, founder, Innovation Forum

Breakout 2: Hospitality

Caroline Meledo, senior manager, corporate responsibility and human rights, Hilton
Fran Hughes, director, International Tourism Partnership
Rosana Elias, head of responsible sourcing, Whitbread

Moderator: Ian Welsh, publishing director, Innovation Forum

Breakout 3: Finance

Maria Anne van Dijk, head of environmental social and ethical risk and policy, ABN AMRO
Mark Eckstein, director of environmental and social responsibility, CDC

Moderator: Francis West, business learning director, Shift




Case study: the role of collaboration in implementing a living wage

With a rise in global concern around low wages, the casualisation of labour, and widening wage gaps, there is increasing demand for workers to earn a living wage.

Raising wages to ‘living’ standard is difficult for any one brand to implement, but if done collaboratively, relevant stakeholders including brands, retailers, manufacturers and trade unions, can help develop a system that can be scaled sustainably, industry-wide.

In the apparel industry, ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation) has set out to improve wages through collective bargaining, better manufacturing standards and responsible purchasing practices.

As an example of collaboration by trade unions, government and business, how is the initiative fairing? Using this example, we’ll uncover the first lessons learned, any advice for other industries keen to implement a living wage, and the main incentives for business.

Adil Rehman, senior ethical trade manager, ASOS
Jenny Holdcroft, assistant general secretary, IndustriALL

Moderator: Ian Welsh, publishing director, Innovation Forum


Closing Q&A: the current political climate: what does it mean for human rights and does your business have a role in responding?

The uneven consequences of globalisation, growth and trade are leading to a growing discontent with the current state of play. Changes are leading to increasing uncertainties in the role of government in safe-guarding human rights, raising the question if business should step up in place. 

Rounding up some of the main themes to come out of the last two days, this closing Q&A will explore this shifting paradigm, and discuss what legitimate role does business has in advocating for human rights.

John Morrison, executive director, Institute for Human Rights and Business 

Moderator: Toby Webb, founder, Innovation Forum


End of conference

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