Responsible Business 2017

Emerging voices, evolving expectations

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Chatham House, London

Recent political transitions have demonstrated a sense of dissatisfaction with the global economy and current business practices. Amidst continued economic uncertainty there is a concern that corporate responsibility and holding businesses to account over business practices and human rights have dropped to the bottom of national policy agendas. 

Consumer and investor opinion, and a need to demonstrate long-term strategic vision, are all critical to the competitiveness of multinational corporations, so that they remain viable and commercially sustainable. In the perceived absence of national-level institutional capacity and drive, many will look to corporations to foster the integration of human rights, sustainability, transparency and other societally advantageous norms across global supply chains, international trade and regional business operations. 

In-depth assessment is required of exactly what expectations stakeholders have in contrast to existing practices; in which sectors and regions alternative leadership is necessary – and where it is already emerging; and what are the most effective legislative and industrial strategies, and the accelerants for greater corporate responsibility. 

The second annual Chatham House Responsible Business conference will explore these themes with insights from policy-makers, business leaders and industry experts. Sessions will consider key questions, including:

  • Are public expectations for responsible business in line with ongoing practices in different regions? Where is there a need for greater transparency?
  • In the context of ongoing economic uncertainty, how are priorities for business practice changing? Is there a perceived trade-off between competitiveness and responsibility, and what risk is there of a race to the bottom?
  • What are the opportunities for corporate leadership of the responsible business agenda, and where has this already been demonstrated? 
  • What have recent experiences demonstrated about the effectiveness of regulation in driving responsible business practices? What are the alternatives?
  • Is there a move away from ‘box ticking’ compliance? What is driving this trend, and how can responsible behaviours be implemented across all business practices?

The Chatham House Rule 
To enable as open a debate as possible, this conference will be held under the Chatham House Rule.


Thursday 16 November

Session One | International Leadership on Responsible Business

This session will assess ongoing political developments and what they mean for evolving norms, institutional significance and leadership of the global responsible business agenda.

  • How have political developments over the past year affected prioritization of responsible business issues at a national and international level? Is this in line with public attitudes and expectations?
  • What is the current status of regulator and institutional capacity to drive practices in this space? How does this differ regionally?
  • To what extent do the recent political disruptions in the US and Europe present opportunities for alternative actors to take the lead in advocacy at the global level?
  • Is there a growing need and opportunity for corporations to take the lead in the global responsible business agenda? Where is this already taking place? 
  • What are public expectations of the role businesses should play in civil society? In what ways is this changing? 
  • How have the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Sustainable Development Goals been implemented worldwide? How effective have regulators been at integrating and enforcing them? 

Session Two | Human Rights across Global Supply Chains

This session will focus on business practices across global supply chains and the regulatory and industrial strategies governing adherence to human rights principles and norms.

  • What principal issues have emerged regarding human rights observance in business operations across global supply chains?
  • How prominent are business and human rights issues on national economic policy agendas in developed economies? What does this signal in relation to commitments to human rights principles globally?
  • To what extent is there a perceived trade-off between competitiveness and responsibility in business operations? In this binary context, how can a race to the bottom be avoided?
  • How can due diligence and reporting be made more efficient to enhance transparency? How can technology enhance this?
  • How have major corporations responded to legislation such as the Modern Slavery Act? What does this indicate about the effectiveness of existing regulations?
  • Where is there leadership from business with regards to human rights? Where are the opportunities for corporate action and cooperation?
  • To what extent do historically divergent levels of adherence to human rights principles across countries create concerns when attempting to establish establishing a level playing field?

Session Three | Responsible Investment

This session will investigate evolving norms, drivers and expectations in responsible investment, and the role of investors in encouraging corporate responsibility and governance.

  • What are the core drivers of responsible investment, and how are investor expectations changing? In which sectors are commercial and societal goals most aligned? 
  • What is the role of investors in promoting and enforcing better governance practices at a national and international level? Where is this dynamic most prevalent? 
  • How effective have investors been in actively fostering responsible practices in business operations? 
  • To what extent are efforts by NGOs and responsible investors intensifying? Where is there pressure to ‘close the governance gap’, and what are the opportunities for increased cooperation? 
  • What criteria are most effective for measuring responsibility in investment? What regional factors need to be considered? 

Session Four | The International Trade System

This session will explore the dynamics in the international trade system and how to better integrate the principles of human rights and corporate responsibility.

  • What are the areas of primary concern in the international trading system regarding the integration of human rights? What challenges does this present, and where are there risks of downward pressure on standards?
  • What does a trade deal that respects human rights look like? How can a deal reconcile economic and wider societal objectives?
  • How can recent experiences with dispute resolution and access to remedy inform future trade negotiations?
  • What have events of the past year demonstrated regarding public attitudes towards globalization and the principles of free trade? To what extent will this affect the governance of global trade?
  • How can concerns that forthcoming trade agreements will limit the state’s ability to regulate human rights issues be mitigated?

1730 End of conference and reception hosted by Chatham House
© The Royal Institute of International Affairs 2017


Eric R. Biel to speak at the Chatham House Responsible Business 2017 conference

Eric R. Biel

Associate Deputy Undersecretary, US Department of Labor

Mike Davis to speak at the Chatham House Responsible Business 2017 conference

Mike Davis

Director of Campaigns, Planning & Evaluation, Global Witness

Bennett Freeman to speak at the Chatham House Responsible Business 2016 conference

Bennett Freeman

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, United States (1999-2001)

Richard Howitt to speak at Chatham House Responsible Business conference 2017

Richard Howitt

CEO, International Integrated Reporting Council

Dr Mo Ibrahim to speak at Chatham House Responsible Business 2017 conference

Dr Mo Ibrahim

Founder, Mo Ibrahim Foundation

Margot James MP

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility

Lise Kingo to speak at Chatham House Responsible Business 2017 conference

Lise Kingo

CEO & Executive Director, UN Global Compact

Leo Martin to speak at Chatham House Responsible Business 2016 conference

Leo Martin

Director & Co-Founder, GoodCorporation

 Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz to speak at the Chatham House Responsible Business 2017 conference

Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz

Chief Executive Officer, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

Roel Nieuwenkamp to speak at Chatham House Responsible Business 2017 conference

Roel Nieuwenkamp

Chair, Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct, OECD

Vandita Pant to speak at the Chatham House Responsible Business 2017 conference

Vandita Pant

Group Treasurer and Head of Europe, BHP Billiton

Valeria Piani to speak at the Chatham House Responsible Business 2017 conference

Valeria Piani

Associate Director, Principles for Responsible Investment

Paula Pyers to speak at Chatham House conference on Responsible Business

Paula Pyers

Senior Director of Supply Chain Responsibility, Apple

Francis West to speak at the Chatham House Responsible Business 2017 conference

Francis West

Business Learning Program Director, Shift

Dr Linda Yueh to speak at the Chatham House Global Trade 2016 conference

Dr Linda Yueh

Fellow in Economics, St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford and Adjunct Professor of Economics, London Business School

Jennifer Anne Zerk to speak at the Chatham House Responsible Business 2017 conference

Jennifer Ann Zerk

Associate Fellow, International Law Programme, Chatham House

Pricing and booking information 

Ways to book:

  1. Online: Click here to complete the online registration form
  2. Phone: Call Georgia Dalton on +44 (0)20 7314 2785
  3. Email / Post: Download a PDF registration form, complete and return to Clare Smyllie via email or post: Chatham House, 10 St. James’s Square, London, SW1Y 4LE


Partners and major corporate members 
All organizations£595
Standard corporate members 
Commercial organizations£1,180
Government departments£700
NGOs and academics£460
Commercial organizations£1,295
Government departments£750
NGOs and academics£510

Your delegate pass includes:

  • Conference attendance
  • Documentation
  • Lunch and refreshments

Travel and accommodation are not included. View a list of recommended hotels here.



BHP to sponsor Chatham House's Responsible Business 2017 conference


If you are interested in becoming a sponsor for this event, please contact
Ben Cumming on +44 (0) 20 7957 5729


Supporting organizations

CORE to partner with Chatham House on the Responsible Business 2017 conference

GoodCorporation to partner with Chatham House on the Responsible Business 2016 conferenceEurosif to partner with Chatham House on its Responsible Business 2017 Conference

If you are interested in becoming a media partner for this event, please contact
Amy Smith on +44 (0)20 7957 5755


Chatham House
10 St James's Square
[email protected]

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7314 2785
Fax: +44 (0)20 7957 5710

If you wish to book the venue for your own event please phone +44 (0)20 7314 2764

The nearest tube station is Piccadilly Circus which is on the Piccadilly and the Bakerloo Underground lines. From Piccadilly follow Regent Street southwards towards Pall Mall and take the first road on the right called Jermyn Street. Duke of York Street is the second road on the left and leads to St James's Square. Chatham House is immediately on your right.


Although we cannot book accommodation for delegates, we have arranged a reduced rate at some nearby hotels, where you can book your own accommodation. Please inform the hotel that you will be attending a conference at Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs) to qualify for the Institute's reduced rate.

Please note all rates are subject to availability.

Flemings Mayfair
13 Half Moon Street
London - W1J 7BH

Tel: + 44 (0)20 7499 2964
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7499 1817
[email protected]

Classic Double without breakfast: £195 +VAT

The Cavendish London
81 Jermyn Street
London - SW1U 6JF

Tel: + 44 (0)20 7930 2111
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7839 2125
[email protected] 

Classic Room without breakfast: £205 +VAT

Book The Cavendish online

The Stafford London 
St James's Place
London - SW1A 1NJ

Tel: 020 7493 0111
Fax: 020 7493 7121
[email protected]

Classic Queen without breakfast: £247 +VAT
Quote Chatham House


Press registration

This conference will be held under the Chatham House Rule. Information for journalists.

Press can request a press pass.

Contact us 

For enquiries relating to the conference agenda or sponsorship please call Ben Cumming on 
+44 (0)20 7957 5729

For booking enquiries please call Louisa Troughton on +44 (0)20 7957 5727

For general enquiries please email [email protected]