Bennett Freeman

Consultant, board member and speaker on business and human rights, sustainability, and responsible investment

Over the last 18 years of a three decade-plus long career, Bennett Freeman has worked at the intersection of multinational companies, responsible investors, NGOs, governments and international institutions to promote corporate responsibility, sustainability and human rights around the world.  An innovative leader in the fields of business and human rights, natural resource governance and responsible investment, he has played key roles in developing and leading several now well-established multi-stakeholder initiatives and global standards. 


Bennett Freeman consults for major multinational corporations and foundations on international human rights policy, strategy and stakeholder engagement through Bennett Freeman Associates LLC, and as a Senior Advisor for Business for Social Responsibility (BSR).  He is also a frequent conference speaker and lecturer at universities and policy think tanks.


He is Chair of the Advisory Board of Global Witness; Board Secretary (and a co-founder) of the Global Network Initiative; Chair of the Advisory Board of the Responsible Sourcing Network; and Chari of the Board of EG Justice.  He serves on the Governing Board of the Natural Resources Governance Institute; the Advisory Board of the Center for Democracy and Technology; the Steering Committee of the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark initiative; and the Human Rights Advisory Committee of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility.  He formerly served on the boards of the Institute for Human Rights and Business, Oxfam America and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. 


From 2006-15, he was Senior Vice President-Sustainability Research and Policy at Calvert Investments, where he led that mutual fund group’s environmental, social and governance analysis and its shareholder advocacy and public policy initiatives on extractive revenue transparency and conflict minerals; Sudan divestment and responsible investment in Burma; Internet censorship and surveillance; climate change and water sustainability; and gender equity.


As U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor from 1999-2001, he led the State Department’s bilateral human rights diplomacy and the development of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, the global human rights standard for the oil and mining industries.  Previously he served as Senior Advisor to Under Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Stuart Eizenstat from 1997-1999 and as Chief Speechwriter for Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs from 1993-97.  Before joining the State Department as a Clinton presidential appointee, he was Manager-Corporate Affairs for GE from 1985-1993 after beginning his career as a speechwriter and presidential campaign aide to former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale from 1982-1984.