avatar for Vanessa Zimmerman

Vanessa Zimmerman

Pillar Two
Chief Executive Officer
Melbourne, Australia
Vanessa is a recognised global and domestic corporate sustainability expert focusing on human rights.
Originally an anti-trust lawyer, Vanessa 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. 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 and global businesses from a variety of sectors, the Australian government and civil society. For the past seven years Vanessa managed implementation of the human rights strategy at Rio Tinto. In 2018 she founded Pillar Two, an advisory firm helping business to take an integrated, principled 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 workstream and Modern Slavery Community of Practice. Vanessa is also a member of the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) Technical Committee on Human Rights Disclosure and has been appointed to several Australian government advisory groups focused on business and human rights. These include the Department of Home Affairs’ advisory committee for its modern slavery guidance and the Department of Treasury’s new Governance and Advisory Board to the Australian National Contact Point. Vanessa is also an IHRB Research Fellow.