Responsible Business 2017
Emerging voices, evolving expectations
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
Associate Deputy Undersecretary, US Department of Labor
Director of Campaigns, Planning & Evaluation, Global Witness
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, United States (1999-2001)
Dr Mo Ibrahim
Founder, Mo Ibrahim Foundation
Margot James MP
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility
State Secretary, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Germany
Head of ESG Research & Analysis, S&P Global Ratings
Director & Co-Founder, GoodCorporation
Chief Executive Officer, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development
Chair, Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct, OECD
Group Treasurer and Head of Europe, BHP Billiton
Associate Director, Principles for Responsible Investment
Senior Director of Supply Chain Responsibility, Apple
Business Learning Program Director, Shift Project
Dr Linda Yueh
Fellow in Economics, St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford and Adjunct Professor of Economics, London Business School
Jennifer Ann Zerk
Associate Fellow, International Law Programme, Chatham House
Pricing and booking information
Ways to book:
- Online: Click here to complete the online registration form
- Phone: Call Georgia Dalton on +44 (0)20 7314 2785
- 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|
|Standard corporate members|
|NGOs and academics||£460|
|NGOs and academics||£510|
Your delegate pass includes:
- Conference attendance
- Lunch and refreshments
Travel and accommodation are not included. View a list of recommended hotels here.
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor for this event, please contact
Ben Cumming on +44 (0) 20 7957 5729
If you are interested in becoming a media partner for this event, please contact
Amy Smith on +44 (0)20 7957 5755
10 St James's Square
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.
13 Half Moon Street
London - W1J 7BH
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7499 2964
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7499 1817
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
Classic Room without breakfast: £205 +VAT
The Stafford London
St James's Place
London - SW1A 1NJ
Tel: 020 7493 0111
Fax: 020 7493 7121
Classic Queen without breakfast: £247 +VAT
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