Vanessa Zimmerman

Vanessa Zimmerman

Director & Chair, Business and Human Rights

UN Global Compact Australia

Vanessa Zimmerman has been a Director of the UN Global Compact Network Australia since 2013. Vanessa chairs the GCNA’s Human Rights workstream and Modern Slavery Community of Practice. She is also a member of the Nominations and Governance Committee. 

Vanessa is the CEO of Pillar-Two and a recognised global and domestic corporate sustainability expert focusing on human rights. Originally an anti-trust lawyer, Vanessa was a Legal Advisor to the UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights, Harvard Professor John Ruggie and part of the core team drafting the internationally recognised UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. She then managed the implementation of Rio Tinto’s human rights strategy for 7 years, including leading its response to the UK and Australian modern slavery legislation.

In 2018, Vanessa founded Pillar Two, an advisory firm helping businesses take a principled, integrated and practical approach to managing their human rights risks. In 2016 she was recognised as one of 100 Australian Women of Influence and in 2018 was highly commended in the Agenda Setter of the Year category in the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards.

In addition to her work at the UN Global Compact Network Australia, Vanessa holds various expert advisory roles including as a member of the Global Reporting Initiative’s Technical Committee on Human Rights Disclosure, the Law Council of Australia and International Bar Association’s Business and Human Rights Committees, the Australian National Roundtable on Human Trafficking and Slavery, the Australian Border Force Modern Slavery Expert Advisory Group and the Department of Treasury’s Governance and Advisory Board to the Australian National Contact Point. She is also a research fellow at the Institute for Human Rights and Business.

Vanessa holds a Master of Laws from Harvard University as well as a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and Bachelor of Arts (Japanese) from Monash University, Australia.

Vanessa Zimmerman