2018 Finalist in the ‘Agenda Setter of the Year’ category for the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards

Pillar Two CEO - Vanessa Zimmerman

Pillar Two CEO - Vanessa Zimmerman

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

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.

Originally an anti-trust lawyer at King & Wood Mallesons, Australia’s pre-eminent law firm, she specialised in business and human rights, working for five years as a Legal Advisor to the UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights, Harvard Professor John Ruggie. This included being part of the core team drafting the internationally recognised UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

Vanessa has advised other key global business and human rights initiatives such as the Institute for Human Rights and Business (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 seven years Vanessa has managed implementation of the human rights strategy at Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest mining companies. She recently founded Pillar Two, an advisory firm helping business to take an integrated and practical approach to managing their human rights risks, as well as guiding governments on how to support businesses in this work.

Vanessa holds various expert advisory roles including as Board Member of the Global Compact Network Australia and Chair of its Human Rights Leadership Group and Modern Slavery Community of Practice. Vanessa is also a member of the Global Reporting Initiative’s Technical Committee on Human Rights Disclosure and was appointed to the Australian government’s Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group on Business and Human Rights and the Australian National Roundtable on Human Trafficking and Slavery.  Vanessa is also an IHRB Research Fellow.

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

Alice Cope - Senior Advisor

Alice Cope - Senior Advisor

Alice is a passionate and strategic corporate sustainability expert who supports businesses to manage sustainability risks, respect human rights, and deliver positive social impact.

Alice brings significant experience advising companies, government and other stakeholders on sustainability risks and opportunities, with a particular focus on business and human rights and stakeholder engagement.

Starting her career as a corporate lawyer at leading law firm Allens, Alice then worked as a Policy and Sustainability Advisor in New York with the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. Alice’s work focused on a range of business and human rights issues, including gender, Indigenous peoples’ rights and responsible supply chains, as well as government relations.

After returning to Australia, Alice was appointed as the inaugural Executive Director of the UN Global Compact Network Australia, the Australian business-led network of the UN Global Compact and Australia’s leading corporate sustainability initiative. In this role, Alice was a regular advisor to companies, government and other stakeholders on sustainability risks and opportunities, strategies, frameworks and policies including around business and human rights and agendas such as the Sustainable Development Goals. While in this role, Alice was also appointed as a member of the UN Global Compact board, which is chaired by the UN Secretary-General, as a representative of the initiative’s 80+ country networks. Alice also led the annual Australian Dialogue on Business and Human Rights, and was appointed to the Foreign Minister’s Business and Human Rights Advisory Group in 2017.

Alice has a Bachelor of Economics, Bachelor of Finance, Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) and Master of Communications.