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Corporate Responsibility Workshops - Pushing the Boundaries

21 June 2007 at 3:25 pm
Staff Reporter
Momentum International Partnerships is conducting a series of Corporate Responsibility workshops and seminars to stimulate debate, push the boundaries of and demystify the concept of corporate responsibility.

Staff Reporter | 21 June 2007 at 3:25 pm


Corporate Responsibility Workshops - Pushing the Boundaries
21 June 2007 at 3:25 pm

Momentum International Partnerships is conducting a series of Corporate Responsibility workshops and seminars to stimulate debate, push the boundaries of and demystify the concept of corporate responsibility.

The series will commence with ‘Business and Human Rights – an interactive workshop about Corporate Responsibility, Human Rights and the International Human Rights System’ which will be opened by one of the foremost authorities on international human rights, Prof Brian Burdekin AO, former Federal Human Rights Commissioner, on the 18th July 2007 in Sydney.

The topic has been selected due to the significantly changed expectations of local communities, governments, observers, consumers and shareholders in regard to the role of business in realising human rights.

Momentum CEO, Ulrike Schuermann says the protection of human rights is relevant for business and is no longer simply the responsibility of Governments alone. International business leaders have deepened their involvement in talks about the role of business in protecting human rights, a topic that sits at the centre of civil society’s criticism of globalization, and these developments are affecting Australian trans-national and national businesses alike.

Schuermann says business operations bring about major changes to societies and communities and these changes can have major influence (positive and negative) on the way people live. There are many intersections between corporate activities and human rights.

She says corporations can lift human rights standards where these are insufficient and not in line with international expectations or corporations can abuse them, often as an unintentional side effect of operations, sometimes through negligence and in the worst case scenarios, intentionally to obtain unfair advantage.

The difficulty of measuring indirect impacts – Frustrated by the difficulty of evaluating the social, including the human rights consequences of their operations, Ulrike Schuermann says some firms welcome the possible starting point of universally-agreed-upon UN standards on human rights. Others are reticent to see business assume responsibility for what they see as a fundamental government duty.

She says it is therefore important to better understand business impacts on human rights, negatively as well as positively and develop and employ increasingly sophisticated strategies and activities that maximise positive impacts and minimise negative impacts of business on human rights.

This interactive workshop aims to provide a basic introduction into Human Rights, International Law, the UN System and business issues relating to human rights and their relevance to the Australian system. Further, the workshop aims to provide relevant examples of business and NGO cooperation and discuss the challenges, lessons learned and some of the results achieved.

Professor Brian Burdekin says the importance of the private sector in protecting human rights has almost invariably been underestimated and, frequently, overlooked entirely.

He says in an increasingly interdependent and "privatised" world this situation cannot continue without very serious consequences–not only for individuals affected by human rights violations, but also for the corporate sector and the governments responsible for regulating it. Achieving an appropriate regulatory balance will only be possible with a more informed and engaged contribution from business people–as well as civil society and bureaucratic advisors.

Other workshops and seminars in 2007 will include a roundtable entitled: ‘climate change – time to act now?’ which aims to contribute to the current seminal debate on climate change and is inspired by the recently released report by the business roundtable on climate change.

This will be followed by a seminar about effective corporate responsibility reporting and communication strategies presented by one of the leading advisers in this field.

This seminar will not only present best practice case studies but also reflect on the current quality and effectiveness of corporate responsibility reporting and subsequent or related communication strategies and suggest practical ways for improvement which will increase the impact of a company’s corporate responsibility strategy overall.

Momentum will also conduct a simple ‘introduction into corporate responsibility workshop’ with the aim to demystify CR concepts and activities. The workshop aims at individuals who are interested in learning more about the concepts and initiatives surrounding CR; want to switch careers; have been given the responsibility for some aspect of their company’s corporate responsibility strategy or for those who are simply confused by the amount of activities in this field and have a desire to make sense of it.

Momentum’s workshops will be highly interactive and based on experiential learning methods while seminars will be engaging but require less involvement.

Momentum is partnering with a variety of likeminded individuals and organisations to achieve the series objectives and is pleased that Pro Bono Australia, a leading provider of resources for Australia’s Not for Profit organisations and CSR programs, is a supporting partner of the Momentum Partnership Corporate Responsibility Series.

If you would like to register your interest or request further information about any of the above or obtain a copy of the brochure for the Business and Human Rights workshop to be held on 18 July 2007 please contact Ulrike Schuermann on 02-9699 7427 or email

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